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China Slams Trump-Taiwan Call; Trump Adviser: "Screw 'Em" if China Upset by Taiwan Call; Fake Stories, Real Consequences; Is Pipeline Standoff Really Over?; Fake News, Real Gunshots; White Supremacist Who Hailed Trump Win to Speak at Texas A&M; Death Toll Rises to 36 in Oakland Fire; Victim's Mom: She was "Beautiful, Smart, Independent, Strong"; Victim's Mom: "She Died Doing Something She Enjoyed"; Victim's Mom: "You Find the Strength You Never Knew You Had"; Standing Rock Fight Isn't Over Yet; Joy is Short-Lived at Dakota Pipeline Protest; Judge Declares Mistrial in Slager Murder Trial. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 5, 2016 - 21:00   ET



[21:01:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. We begin the hour with new aftershocks from a phone call that on the face of it would seem pretty routine. A foreign leader calls the President-elect to offer congratulations. No big deal, right, unless it's the leader of Taiwan, in which case it's something that hasn't happened in nearly four decades.

Now, you can argue you've been establishing closer official connections to Taiwan as just recognizing a long-standing reality or it's a destabilizing move. However, there's no disputing that what Donald Trump did was unprecedented. And now, "The Washington Post" is reporting it was also very deliberate, as his reaction from the Chinese government, which got that much sharper today. More now from our Jim Sciutto.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Today, Beijing issuing a blistering response to Donald Trump's increasingly anti-China rhetoric. An editorial in China's state-run "People's Daily" said, "Trump and his transition team should realize that making the trouble for China-U.S. ties is making the trouble for themselves." Adding with a poke at the President's "Make America Great Again" slogan, "Creating troubles for China won't make the U.S. great."


SCIUTTO: The White House added its own criticism.

EARNEST: It's unclear exactly what the strategic effort is, what the aim of the strategic effort is, and it's unclear, exactly, what potential benefit could be experienced by the United States. SCIUTTO: Trump doubled and tripled down on his tougher stance over the weekend, tweeting, "Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency, making it hard for our companies to compete, heavily tax our products going into their country, the U.S. doesn't tax them, or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so!"

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: They take our money, they take our jobs.

SCIUTTO: Trump had targeted China throughout his campaign.

TRUMP: China respects strength. And by letting them take advantage of us economically, which they are doing like never before, we have lost all of their respect.

SCIUTTO: But now it is increasingly clear that this more confrontational stance towards a nuclear-armed China that is America's second largest trading partner will continue in a Trump presidency.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think you're going to see in a President Donald Trump a willingness to engage the world, but engage the world on America's terms.


COOPER: And Jim Sciutto joins us now. "The Washington Post" is reporting the President-elect's call with the President of Taiwan was "intentionally provocative move" according to the sources, "The Post" says were involved with planning the call. Now, what's interesting is Donald Trump himself on Friday had tweeted that it was just a congratulatory call that the president had called him. What's the latest you're hearing?

SCIUTTO: This is the thing, it's difficult here to distinguish between spontaneous commentary from Donald Trump and genuine policy making, because as you said on Friday, the word from Trump and his team was this was just a congratulatory call. But since then, there has been, whether it's retroactive or intentional justification of this affected change in U.S. policy towards Taiwan, not just from Trump, with those tweets, but from his team members saying that this is something that is right. We're close with Taiwan. We should be able to speak to them. And by the way, look at all of this other bad stuff that China is doing.

So, it would seem from the public comments that whether intentional or not that Donald Trump is making the case here for a more contentious relationship with China.

COOPER: Is it clear, Jim, how China may react down the road to a more confrontational U.S. president?

SCIUTTO: Well, this is the thing, I mean you see some hints in their public comments, from the foreign ministry, you have these very inner dine diplomatic statements, but then in the communist party mouth pieces like the "People's Daily", which is another way that China, you know, call that China's Twitter right here, it's another way that they communicate their reactions much more forward leaning. The message essentially being, OK, you think you can punish us. Well, we got a lot of skin in this game, too. We got a lot of, you know, arrows in our quiver. We have ways we can push back even kind of making fun of Donald's "Make America Great Again."

[21:05:09] And that is true. On all of these issues, on the South China Sea, on trade for instance, on the debt that China owes -- owns of the U.S., China has ways to make America hurt as well.

COOPER: Yeah. Jim, stick around because I want to bring you in with the panel. The panel joins us now.

Monica, you're with the "Wall Street Journal", what do you think of the reporting by "The Washington Post" that this call between Taiwan and President-elect Trump was, in their words, unintentionally provocative move?

MONICA LANGLEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't have reporting on that myself, but I can tell you it would not surprise me about Donald Trump at all. This is totally consistent with the person he is.

COOPER: And he had not consistent seemingly with the tweet that he had sent out Friday --


COOPER: -- saying that, you know --

LANGLEY: I know.

COOPER: -- which is congratulatory call.

LANGLEY: But I'm not an expert on foreign policy. I'm not an expert on Donald Trump. This is totally like him and I can also say this gives me an inkling as to why he has still not settled on Secretary of State. He does not want anyone that will freelance and overshadow him. He is going to be in charge of our dealings with foreign countries.

And I think, guess what? Would Romney or Giuliani try to take the lead and do all this? He wants can to do it. And I think that's the reason.

I can also tell you in China, they're kind of read the tea leaves about who is Donald Trump really going to be. I've gotten some e- mails from China. They are circulating a video. I don't know if you've seen it, but there's a video of Arabella Kushner, Ivanka's daughter, singing a Chinese nursery rhyme, and they're all marveling, it's in perfect Mandarin. And so they're saying, so maybe Donald Trump is not that bad, look at his granddaughter, she can sing a nursery rhyme --

COOPER: A lot of private schools now in New York are teaching Mandarin --

LANGLEY: I know, but, you know, they're clinging to anything.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, look, Donald Trump is the ultimate disrupter. We've seen that in our politics. He absolutely wants to bring that into his foreign policy. He may not have a developed view of the world or even how he wants the United States to project its power and influence, but he understands business and he understands the opening gambit of negotiation.

I think he's looking for leverage. He's also being advised by more hard-line conservatives to deliberately shake-up the relationship with China by using Taiwan as leverage. And look, Trump has said that he admired Richard Nixon's madman theory of diplomacy, may want to use it here.

COOPER: And I mean it is -- you know, so much of what the way he views things, diplomacy is transactional, is a deal, is a negotiation and this -- I mean for all we know, is sort of an opening salvo in that of reframing --

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Sure, pushing to the limits and then --

COOPER: Right.

CHALIAN: -- try to bring it back in the deal making. And this is why I think the point you're making about "The Washington Post" reporting and what they're saying is intentional provocation versus just a courtesy call, which Mike Pence was even repeating yesterday. I actually think that's part of the whole structure here. If it wasn't part of the strategy, Donald Trump may come out and actually say in his own words that here's my intentional -- he likes the mystery that it's creating that, the reporting out there versus having just as a courtesy call out there.

COOPER: I just want to play something that Stephen Moore, who's an economic adviser to the president-elect, said about Trump's call with the president of Taiwan, basically defending it saying he didn't -- he didn't care for an upset China. Let's listen to this.


STEPHEN MOORE, ECONOMIC ADVISER: Taiwan is our ally, John. That is a country that we have backed because they believe in freedom. Now, we ought to back our ally, and if China doesn't like it, screw them.


COOPER: He also went on to say, there too many -- I want to give his words correctly, mamby pamby people in the foreign policy shop who are too afraid to insult China.

JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: You know, one of the things that I suspect the president-elect knew is that there's precedent for this. President Clinton, there was an earlier president of Taiwan who was a Cornell graduate and wanted to come back to go to a reunion or whatever in Cornell and President Clinton let him do it and he was here for three days.

And then President Bush also got into the -- President Bush 43 also got into the business of what they call transit stops. When the president of Taiwan would be going to a South American country to visit, he was allowed successively to go to Hawaii, Alaska, New York, Lost Angeles, et cetera.

COOPER: I'm ashamed you have not mention Ronald Reagan allowing the Taiwanese to go to the inauguration. You of all people, I thought would bring that up first.

LORD: But in other words, there is precedent for this. And I might add, the Chinese were upset with all of those things too --

COOPER: Right.

LORD: -- and expressed their displeasure.

COOPER: And yet, I think, if memory serves me, Reagan, I mean, on his second term had very good relations with China. With -- though they had started out kind of rocky, largely in part because of Taiwan.

LORD: Exactly. I remember at one point as a member of the White House staff being invited to go to Taiwan, I couldn't go.

MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I mean a lot of these are (inaudible) also. I mean as part of this is sort of subtly probably responding to a criticism that Donald Trump has had of Barack Obama over the last eight years too which is that there's this argument in foreign policy that Obama is really left a vacuum in foreign policy, right? And the Chinese have become more belligerent in the South China Sea. They have really flexed their muscle in ways that United States hasn't responded to. And we have in law mandated, arm sales to Taiwan which we have really flexed off on in the last eight years. We also have mandated trade with Taiwan that we have done the last seven, last eight years.

[21:10:14] And Taiwan there is -- remember the Cold War years. I'm mean, there was a real argument that the Chinese people, because of their tradition and who they were, just weren't synonymous with democracy, OK? And Taiwan is democratic China. We have a responsibility to defend our democratic allies and to support our democratic allies, which I think we haven't done as much in the last eight years.

And so -- I used to live in Taiwan and I lived in China. You know, I was quite glad to see this, whether it was a misstep or not, this sort of expression of support for a democratic China.

VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I just -- I hate to be rude but we have one president at a time in our country. If you want to change the policy, you're more than welcome to do so when you're the president of the United States. This is radically disruptive.

Also, the idea of a trade war with China might sound great to people in Manhattan and people in the think tanks -- hold on a second. This is a dangerous game that we are beginning to play. And you are talking about now a radical realignment. Now Russia is our friend, though they have been disrupting us politically with all their cyber attacks, and China is going to be our opponent, though they have been an economic partner.

I just want to point out that we may be sitting here a year from now when our economy is being buffeted by the repercussions of this sort of stuff and thinking very differently about tonight.

SCIUTTO: Anderson?

COOPER: Yeah, go ahead, Jim.

SCIUTTO: I just -- let me thank Van Jones there, because, listen, those moves, there have been -- first of all, the U.S. has had a long- term relationship with Taiwan, it sells F-16s, you know, intended to stop a Chinese invasion of the island. So, this relationship has been there for a long time. Taiwanese have been invited here, et cetera.

But in the span of 48 hours, Donald Trump threw the gauntlet down on three issues, divide the U.S. and China, one certainly on Taiwan, one over the South China Sea, one over trade. All very dangerous tense issues without any articulation of exactly what the change is other than we're going to be tougher here.

And the thing is that each of this has a potential for an escalating conflict. South China Sea, you have U.S. war planes flying over those islands. I was on one of them last year coming in very close proximity to Chinese war planes. You have U.S. Navy warships sailing by those islands coming very close as well.

As you raise that tension --


SCIUTTO: -- those conflict points, one of those, whether it's in the military sense or as Van says in trade sense has the potential to blow up to some degree, and when that happens, it's not just the Chinese that pay, right? It's Americans who potentially pay as well.

COOPER: Yeah, we're going to have more on this conversation. We're going to focus on a completely fake news story, a member of the Trump transition team and the man who opened fire at a Washington pizzeria. Later, protesters trying to stop an oil pipeline score what looks like a big victory. The question now, is it really a victory and is the standoff really over?


[21:16:48] COOPER: Hey, welcome back. New evidence tonight that not only can a lie span the globe before the truth catches up, it can also be amplified to the point that someone believing it does something stupid or in this case something potentially deadly. Now, that alone, though troubling that's not news, what is news is when the lie and others like it is spread by a person just a few steps removed from the man who's about to become president of the United States. That news, a story that could have been even worse, came together yesterday continues to echo tonight. More now from our senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Fake news, real gunfire, a North Carolina man arrested in a D.C. pizza shop after brandishing a gun, telling police he was there to investigate a conspiracy theory called "Pizzagate."

SHARIF SILMI, WITNESS: One of the hosts runs up and is like, did you see that guy? You know, he had a big gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We actually thought initially that he was a staff member, because he was walking straight for that back room, staff member, you know kind of looked at me and indicated that this was a gun man.

STELTER: Edgar Welch appeared in court this afternoon. According to police, Welch said that he had read online that the Comet Ping Pong Restaurant was harboring child sex slaves and that he wanted to see for himself if they were there. The suspect said he was armed to help rescue them. The accusation came from this unhinged story that originated online days before the election, saying that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, were operating a child sex ring. The lie took root in the digital swamps of Twitter and far right-wing websites.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not covering "Pizzagate" enough, even though we covered it every day. To expose the Satanism and the occult and code words for pedophilia.

STELTER: October 30th, a Clinton-hating, Trump-loving Twitterer claimed a police source said Clinton was at the center of a pedophilia ring, others latched on to this, seemingly hoping it was true, scouring dark corners of the web for possible clues. This is how conspiracy theories are threaded together, lie by lie. Eventually a name stuck, "Pizzagate", and the believer started harassing the owner of the Pizza place.

JAMES ALEFANTIS, COMET PING PONG OWNER: We have received many, many calls, but really they're from around the world, so we didn't expect anyone to come.

STELTER: On Sunday, the suspect fired his weapon, but no one was hurt. With detectives still on the scene in D.C., "Pizzagate" believers were already claiming that this real development was just part of a cover-up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The media is claiming that this is because of "Pizzagate." This is very dangerous fake news. Anybody claiming that the gunman today at Come Pizza had anything to do with "Pizzagate" is lying.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Brian joins us now. I mean you can look at this and said this is another example that we're in this post-truth world that, you know, so many people talked about during the campaign.

STELTER: Indeed. And I don't think all of us are in that world, Anderson, but many of us. So, it's hard to have precise data about this. You know, millions of people saw this "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory idea online. I think most people dismissed it, but some clearly believed it. At least one man enough to drive from North Carolina to Washington, D.C. to this restaurant.

Conspiracy theories themselves are nothing new, but the Internet makes them more powerful, makes them more pernicious. You know the world's greatest invention for truth ever access to every fact ever also allows people to wall themselves off into these digital echo chambers and we're seeing that very vividly on days like today.

[21:20:12] COOPER: Yeah. Brian, stay with us. I want to bring in the panel. David Chalian, it's not just that, you know, we're seeing this more and more, it's that people in positions of power now are actually tweeting or retweeting and giving sort of credence to them. And you have the son of the future national security adviser, who has a role in the Trump transition and was chief of staff to his father, talking about "Pizzagate."

CHALIAN: Yeah, that's not very far removed. And what that does is it takes a fringe story and brings it to the mainstream. Because once somebody that close to the President-elect is tweeting about it, it enters the conversation in a way that it doesn't when it just lives on the right. And so, there's some responsibility for those in positions of power to choke it off and really push it back to the fringe to say that this -- there's no truth to this, because there's danger, potentially, involves here.

And so I think that's what happens. When Mike Flynn's son does that, that all of a sudden, I'm not saying the Trump campaign is responsible for this in any way, I'm just saying, now that Mike Flynn's son does that, somebody needs to say, this is totally false.

COOPER: Does someone from the Trump transition need to say that?

GREGORY: I think so. I think without a doubt. I mean, this is the incoming national security adviser, General Michael Flynn, who has experience in the world of gathering intelligence. You had Alex Suppan on this program earlier on. He personally interrogated people who felt that the Zionists and the Jews were responsible for 9/11 and not Osama bin Laden.

People died because of this crap that's out there all over the world and they can hurt Americans. Americans can die. People have a responsibility, including the incoming president of the United States to say, there's the truth-based world and then there's other parts of the world. We better get right here if we want our democracy to keep moving forward.

COOPER: Matt is that concern? MATT LEWIS, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY CALLER: Absolutely. As the "Spiderman" line, "With great power comes great responsibility." And the --

COOPER: Was it Spiderman who said that?

LEWIS: Maybe it was in the Bible, OK. A wise man once said. So I think people in positions of authority, it's incumbent upon them to shoot straight. And realize that a lot of, you know, Alisyn Camerota the other day on "New Day" did this sort of focus group where she interviewed somebody who clearly thought that it was -- did the story about 3 million illegal voters was true.

And the truth is, I know a lot of sort of regular Americans in places like Pennsylvania, you know, where my mom lives in Maryland, Western Maryland where I'm from, and West Virginia where I went to college. They don't have time to sit around and sort of discern all day long, this is credible, this isn't credible. They're reading websites, they're listening to talk radio, they're looking at Twitter. And if somebody who is in a position of authority gives it imprimatur, well, then it takes off.

COOPER: I believe it was Thor who said, Odin.

LEWIS: But sometimes this stuff just falls on vulnerable ears. I mean, you can't police every conspiracy theory --

COOPER: Right, and some psycho who's out there and somebody who has some sort of mental health issue is --

LEWIS: Right. I mean, in the media, we can do our job. You're not going to spend your time debunking every conspiracy theory on this program every night. The truth is, there are vulnerable people who are going to hear these things and they're going to act this way. This is part of our society, unfortunately.

STELTER: I Googled it and Matt's right about Spiderman. I didn't want to check that one. You know, to get serious, people in power benefit from confusion. We've seen it all around the world in authoritarian regimes. I think we have to wonder if when Donald Trump on the campaign trail would bring up conspiracy theories, if he, in power as president, will benefit from this kind of fake news confusion. And then you have to wonder, what can social media firms do? What can newsrooms do? And most importantly, what can individual users do to refuse to be confused?

COOPER: But, you know, Monica, I mean, do we know -- does -- if Michael Flynn's son is going to continue to have a position in the White House of Donald Trump?

LANGLEY: I don't know that. I think that this raises a serious question as to whether he should be. I mean, he is on the transition team. And didn't he say something that this, until it's proven true -- I mean, I've never heard of such a twist of how things should be -- what did he exactly say? COOPER: I'm sorry, I'm looking for the quote. It was like -- yes, until "Pizzagate" is proven false, it will continue to be a story. I mean, what does that --

LEWIS: Part of the problem too is that, you know --

LANGLEY: That's exactly the opposite of the way we regard stories and what we've been trying to do, what I've been trained to do for 30 years at "The Wall Street Journal". So, I think --

COOPER: Right. And you would expect people who are in position of power not to be trafficking something they don't know for a fact is true.

LANGLEY: Yes, unless it's truth and show -- in other words, it's true unless we come out and show that Comet Pizza -- Comet Ping Pong, which by the way has some of the best pizza in Washington, D.C., it's very popular, and a lot of the Democrats do go there. So I see why they put in Podesta and all that. And if -- so I can give you that --

[21:25:00] LEWIS: It's also the nature of the allegation, right? So, and this is a bipartisan problem in my opinion. But on the right, I started noticing five, six, seven years ago, this hashtag war. And the idea was that politics is basically now war. And in war, you engage in disinformation and all bets are off, all rules are off. But look, if you're saying, well, he voted to raise taxes. Well, that's not a life-or-death situation, but if you're alleging that somebody is abusing children, that --

COOPER: Right, and that's happening right now and you can --

LEWIS: -- that would summon a patriot to --

LANGLEY: Right. And it's true unless someone proves it false. I mean, how are you going to prove that they have not been abusing children?

GREGORY: But the quotation with conspiracy theories and misinformation, as Brian says, is the comfort of authoritarianism. And we as Americans and our forces fighting in other parts of the world particularly in the Middle East have been battling this now for decades, about a vision of truth, a version of truth that is not truth at all about what America does in the rest of the world.

STELTER: That's why warfare's the key word. This is a form of information warfare. And I'm actually kind of glad that we're grappling with it post-election. I thought what happened yesterday was horrible, but the conversation nationally about fake news is one we really do need to have.

COOPER: All right. I want to thank everybody on the panel. Just, you know, a quick Google search shows that the great power quote has been attributed to the French revolution and Spiderman and possibly the Bible as well.

Other news ahead, just a few weeks ago the head of the white supremacist movement spoke at a meeting in Washington, celebrating Donald Trump's victory. Tomorrow he's scheduled for another speech at a university in Texas. Gary Tuchman is there where he spoke to the person who set up that speech. That's next.


PRESTON WIGINTON, SPEECH ORGANIZER: A ban on immigration, if not a strict curb on immigration, I don't think that you can bring Somalians into America and expect them to assimilate. It's a completely different culture. It just doesn't happen.


WIGINTON: Oh, I would be very selective on that. I think we just freely let too many of anybody into America.

TUCHMAN: So, that's what prejudice is, though, is that you're saying they should all not come.

WIGINTON: Well, you know when you --

TUCHMAN: There are bad people -- there are bad people absolutely should not be in this country from all nationalities, all creeds, all religions. But by saying that all Somalis shouldn't come here, isn't that being a bigot?


[21:31:09] COOPER: Well, the calendar is filling up for the head of the white supremacist group to celebrate a Donald Trump victory by quoting Nazi propaganda at a gathering a few blocks from the White House. Tomorrow, he's speaking at Texas A&M University. Gary Tuchman tonight reports.


TUCHMAN: This is the man who invited white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak at Texas A&M University. Preston Wiginton knows it will be controversial. He knows most people don't want this event to take place.

What do you think of Richard Spencer?

WIGINTON: I think he has some valid points.

RICHARD SPENCER, WHITE NATIONALIST: Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!

TUCHMAN: The Nazi era wording, the Nazi era imagery at this gathering in Washington, D.C., upsetting to so many. Wiginton, a political activist who lives in Texas, says he doesn't agree with all of Spencer's views, but he certainly does some of them.

Do you think this is a white nation? WIGINTON: I think it was at one time and I think that the reaction of Trump being elected and the reaction that's going on with the alt- right being popular is a reaction to it declining on being a white nation.

TUCHMAN: Wiginton says he doesn't like to label himself, but says he is sympathetic to the point of view of the so-called alt-right, a relatively new term for what in the past were simply called white supremacists.

WIGINTON: Why would I want to see America become less white? Why would I want to be displaced and marginalized?

TUCHMAN: Here's the thing.

WIGINTON: Only people with a mental illness want to be displaced and marginalized.

TUCHMAN: But, here's the thing, you and people like you have just hang up about the color of people's skin. What's the difference? What color of people skin are? What matters is the kind of people they are. So, why does it matter the pigment of their skin?

WIGINTON: It's not just pigment.

TUCHMAN: What is it?

WIGINTON: People's behavior, people's I.Q., people evolve over different times and different places, people --

TUCHMAN: OK. There are lots of white people with low IQs. There are lots of black people with high IQs. There are lots of red people with low IQs and low IQs. Everyone is different. You're stereotyping. So my question is don't --

WIGINTON: Better the devil I know than the devil I don't.

TUCHMAN: Texas A&M does not want this event to happen. And has officially rejected Richard Spencer's views, but says it cannot ban the event because this is a public university. A number of students who oppose Spencer's visit have organized what is expected to be a large demonstration. They pledge to keep it peaceful.

NICHOLAS MEINDI, TEXAS A&M GRADUATE STUDENT: We have a responsibility to take measured action to counter white nationalism, white supremacist.

WIGINTON: Yeah, I think there's going to be outside agitators by all means.

TUCHMAN: Wiginton, who is a former A&M student, has mentioned on the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center, (inaudible) groups which says he has declared he wants to prevent the populations of white nations from becoming what he has term the homogenous muddle of sludge. Wiginton says he was he was misquoted but doesn't deny the point of the quote and says, there is way to make American more white. WIGINTON: A ban on immigration, if not a strict curb on immigration. I don't think that you can bring Somalians into America and expect them to assimilate. It's a completely different culture. It just doesn't happen.

TUCHMAN: But some Somalians can, right?

WIGINTON: Oh, I would be very selective on that. I think we just freely let too many of anybody into America.

TUCHMAN: That's what prejudice is, though, is that you're saying they should all not come.

WIGINTON: Well, you know when you --

TUCHMAN: There are bad there, bad people absolutely should not to be in this country from all nationalities, all creeds, all religions. But by saying that all Somalis shouldn't come here, isn't that being a bigot?

WIGINTON: Sometimes maybe being a bigot is wise.


COOPER: Gary joins me now. This guy, the organizer you talked to, how well does he actually know Richard Spencer?

TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, Wiginton says he's worked hard to make this event happen, but he's never met Spencer in person. That is until tonight, about one hour ago, when Spencer arrived here in College Station, Texas. Both men are acquaintances, they talked to each other on the Internet over a period of years, but tonight is the first time they've met in person, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Gary Tuchman. Gary, thanks very much.

Just ahead, the death toll has risen to 36 in the Oakland warehouse fire. It was no secret the building was a fire trap, a disaster waiting to happen.

[21:35:03] The latest on the investigation, plus, we're going to talk to the parents of one of the women who lost her life.


COOPER: In Oakland, California, the death toll in a fire that swept through a converted warehouse during a dance party has climbed to 36, dozens of people are still missing, though. The cause of the fire is unknown right now, is the search for other possible victims continues, a criminal investigation has been launched. In the wake of the tragedies, it's becoming clear that the building was wildly considered a hazard. Dan Simon tonight reports.


DERRICK ION ALAMEDA, CO-FOUNDER, GHOST SHIP ARTIST COLLECTIVE: They're my children. They're my friends and my family. They're my loves and my future. What else do I have to say?

DAN SIMON,CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cofounder of the Ghost Ship Artist Collective, Derrick Ion Alameda, helped transform the two-story warehouse into a maze of rooms, furniture, and art.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the people that said that the place was a death trap? That it was fire risks?

SIMON: Now as bodies are recovered from the artist enclave nicknamed the Ghost Ship, residents and friends are speaking out.

SIMON: You lived there. Did you think it was safe?

SWAN VEGA, WAREHOUSE RESIDENT: No. no, I -- no we need help.

SIMON: Why did you stay then?

[21:40:00] VEGA: Because this is my community.

SIMON: Swan Vega had lived in the converted warehouse since the very beginning, even though she had reservations about its safety, she's defending its purpose and the celebration that turned tragic on Friday night.

VEGA: It was not a nightclub. It was not for profit. It was just our community house.

SIMON: The burned out structure still holds an unknown number of victims, as officials vowed to determine a cause.

MAYOR LIBBY SCHAAF, OAKLAND, CA: You will get, that the families will get, that this city will get the answers to every question about this incident.

SIMON: Partygoers came to what had been advertised as a dance party with live music. Dozens have already been confirmed dead, including at least three foreign nationals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I expected it to be shut down a long time ago. I called the police three times myself.

SIMON: Former residents and friends are now saying it was only a matter of time before disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were fires that were started from electrical cords and transformers. There was intermittent heat and electricity.

SIMON: Now investigators are looking closely at previous code violations and complaints, ranging from illegal occupancy to trash and debris. Authorities have set up a tip line for help to determine what happened.

NANCY O'MALLEY, ALAMEDA COUNTY, CA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It's too early to speculate on anything. The range of charges could be murder, all the way to involuntary manslaughter. And until we know what the evidence shows us, there may be other charges, if the evidence presents that.

SIMON: What do you want to say to those who are mourning, who lost friends and loved ones?

VEGA: There's nothing I can say. There's nothing anyone can say. There's nothing. It's just tragedy. Horror and tragedy. It's not a time to fight each other. There's just -- can we please embrace each other? It's just beyond.


COOPER: Dan Simon joins us now. What was it that drew some people in the community to live in the warehouse together?

SIMON: Well, the woman I spoke to, Anderson, said she wanted to be part of what she described as a 24/7 creative hub. So they started this community and the money that they raised from events like they had on Friday night would help keep the community going. Obviously, the fact that you had people living in that warehouse and acknowledged by some to be unsafe is obviously going to be a big part of the investigation.

But Anderson, I want to show you what things look like a block away. You can see this beautiful growing makeshift memorial. So many people have come by to pay their respects to those who died.

And Anderson, as for a cause, firefighters say they still don't know what caused this fire to start, but they have pinpointed, they think, where it all began. So hopefully, that will yield some clues. Anderson?

COOPER: So unbelievable. Dan, thanks so much.

Thirty three of the 36 people recovered from the scene of the fire have been identified. Most were young. As you might expect from a crowd in an electronic dance party on Friday night, students, artists, musicians.

Donna Kellogg was 32 years old. She worked at a coffee shop in Berkeley, was studying nutrition. Earlier I spoke to her parents, Keith and Susan Slocum.


COOPER: Susan and Keith, I'm so sorry for your loss. What do you want people to know about Donna? What was she like?

SUSAN SLOCUM, DAUGHTER KILLED IN OAKLAND FIRE: She was a very unique young woman. She was, in my opinion, beautiful, smart, independent, strong, courageous, and she was very artistic. She was a musician. And unfortunately, she was -- she died doing something she enjoyed doing. She was -- we understand -- we think she was on the second floor and they were dancing and that was the group, the first group of nine that were found. And she was within that group.

KEITH SLOCUM, DAUGHTER KILLED IN OAKLAND FIRE: We suspect, yeah. S. SLOCUM: So, we don't know for sure, but we think so.

COOPER: She was with her friends, also?

S. SLOCUM: Yes. And they were -- they're very artistic, musical young people. The group of young people that died were most of them, 20s, 30s, some 17-year-olds, we understand. But they were a very eclectic, artistic -- our daughter, we call her kind of the bohemian.

K. SCOLUM: Yeah.

S. SCOLUM: She was a little redhead with a lot of fire and energy. But she was a very loving, young woman too. And she loved her music. She was a drummer in a band.

COOPER: And a lot of the pictures that we're showing, she has a long hair. I understand she recently got her hair cut short and she said that she sort of looked like Tinker Bell.

[21:45:03] S. SLOCUM: That's what she told me.

K. SLOCUM: Yeah.

S. SLOCUM: I didn't get to see her, but she had strawberry blond red hair and it really fit her personality, because she was kind of fiery and entertaining and just sometimes would just be like Tinker Bell with a little bit of spunkiness too. And she was very loving and caring to her friends.

And I feel like they went up together as a group and this was just an amazing little creative millennial group of kids and I feel so sorry for all the parents that felt like they were raising their kids to be wonderful, creative, independent children, young adults, and that they just made the wrong choice of being in a warehouse that was not safe. But there's a lot of them around here, and this is just a venue that the kids like to go to.

COOPER: We got a statement from Donna's sister, Ginger, and she said -- I just want to read it to our viewers. She said, "Donna shined bright and wasn't worried what others thought. She was going to be who she was. She had amazing parents to let her be herself and to grow into a beautiful, caring soul that she was." And I know Ginger went ahead and read you the statement. How are you holding up? I mean, I think a lot of people seeing this are just going to be amazed at your strength in the midst of your grief?

S. SLOCUM: Well, should I tell them? We lost her brother, my son, when he was 18, so we've been down this road before. And that was seven years ago, in 2009. So, it's -- you've find the strength that you never knew you had and it's trying to be there for our daughter now, in whatever capacity we can be, and giving a message of what a beautiful little soul she was and how much she will be missed. We've heard that message from so many people and there's a lot of loving friends and family we have here. And I think this is one of the first times I've talked more than you have, honey.

K. SLOCUM: You're fine.

S. SLOCUM: But, you know, no -- as a parent, you can feel like you can never do enough for your child. We decided to do the interview because we knew what happened with our son that we needed to come out and tell our part of the story. And that's why we're here.

COOPER: Susan and Keith, I appreciate that in this time, which is the most terrible time of your life, both of you that you share a little bit of Donna with us and a lot more people know her tonight. And we think about you and pray for you and thank you so much for talking with us.

S. SLOCUM: Thank you, Anderson.

K. SLOCUM: Thank you.


COOPER: Incredible what they're going through.

Nothing has stopped local Native Americans and their allies from protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, not blizzards, not months of defeat. Yesterday, a celebration, but the story may only just be beginning. We're going to get an update from the scene, next.


[21:52:14] COOPER: For months now in North Dakota, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies have been fighting a nearly $4 billion project to move crude oil by pipeline. Thousands and military veterans join the protest. There was joy yesterday, afterward came down of success but now, some colder realities have moved in. Sara Sidner tonight reports.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there are upwards of 10,000 people braving these frigid and difficult conditions to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux who are fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline. And they thought they had had won a major battle, but then disappointment.


SIDNER: Drum beats cheers and tears. The sound of victory for the Standing Rock Sioux and thousands of others gathered to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. This massive humanity living off the grid, joined by thousands of military veterans, helped exert so much political and legal pressure, effectively forcing the pipeline to be rerouted.

ARVOL LOOKING HORSE, KEEPER OF WHITE BUFFALO CALF PIPE: The people will have said that. Now, this is a, either we make it or break it. And I guess we made it.

SIDNER: The pipeline was almost to the river when it was halted by the Army Corps of Engineers, so they could take another look at the path. Sunday, officials decided it was a no-go. For months the Sioux nation had been demanding the project be scrapped, they were convinced the pipeline carrying crude oil underneath the Missouri river would one day leak, poisoning the drinking water of millions down river.

DALLAS GOLDTOOTH, CAMP TRIBAL HEADSMAN: This is too much of a risk to be drinking water, to the thousands of people at the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. Too much risk for the sacred sites all along that route in this area and too much risk for us as a planet.

SIDNER: The pipelines planned route did not go through Indian Reservation Land. But the tribe argued the water is part of treaty land and therefore, it too must agree to its path.

So you were offered $59 million and some land by both the landowners and the Dakota Access Pipeline?


SIDNEY: And your response to that was?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want the land, we don't want money.

SIDNER: Instead, they wanted to protect the water. North Dakota's governor says the pipeline was 95 percent complete. The company was waiting on that final permit. It's not getting it. It seemed to be a blessing to the Standing Rock Sioux.

CHASE IRON EYES, STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBESMAN: What we see has never been seen before in the written history of our people. We have never known a time when non-native American allies from around the country, around the world, have come here in the dead of winter to stand with us, to stand together to call for a new day.

[21:54:58] SIDNER: But then, energy partners responded saying, this is simply a political move by the Obama administration that won't stop the pipeline from going under the river. They contend the latest decision changes nothing. They have every legal right to continue. And with that, the celebrations could be short-lived.

EYES: If president-elect Trump could override what just happened today on January 20th and grant that easement, then we're in for a world of hurt. Nothing has changed for us.


SIDNER: Just on the other side of these hills, there's another side of this story, of course the folks that work for the Dakota Access Pipeline. That pipeline bringing very well paying jobs, much needed for this particular area. But the folks here say, this is far more important than jobs. It involves the resources of this land and they want to protect them. Anderson?

COOPER: Sarah Sidner, thank you very much.

A judge in Charleston, South Carolina has declared a mistrial if the jury could not reach a verdict in the trial of former police officer Michael Slager. You know, Slager killed Walter Scott who was unarmed after a traffic stop. We may remember, bystander took this cell phone video that showed Slager shooting him multiple times in the back as Scott ran away. Friday, the jury said there was one hold out who would not vote for conviction. Prosecutors say Slager would be tried again and of course continue to follow.

We'll be right back. More news ahead.


[21:59:58] COOPER: Well, that does it for us tonight. Thanks so much for watching. CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon starts now.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: A day of surprises from Donald Trump's transition team.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.