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Sources: Trump May Limit Power of Dir. of Natl. Intel; Source: Flynn Pushed Idea of DNI Shakeup; Intel Wins and Losses; Pence Signals He'll Be an Active Veep on Capitol Hill; The Presidents Club; Clintons, Carter, Bush 43 Will Attend Trump Inauguration; Hoax or Brotherly Heroism? Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 4, 2017 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:46] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Topping the hour, there's breaking news, and President-elect Trump's running battle with the Intelligence Community. Late word, he's planning some kind of a shakeup that's taking place against a loud and contentious backdrop. The President-elect today casting fresh doubt on the intelligence consensus that Russia meddled in the election, appearing to place his trust in the WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, instead. It's a far cry from his view of Assange a few years back when he essentially called for the man's head.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST: And he's going to talk about WikiLeaks. You had nothing to do --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, but I think it's disgraceful. I think there should be like death penalty or something.

KILMEADE: You do think it's disgraceful.


COOPER: Well, today, a different tune. And last night, this tweet on his upcoming briefing with the heads of the CIA, FBI and the Director of National Intelligence, the tweet read, "The intelligence briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday. Perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange." U.S. officials dispute Mr. Trump's claim, factual claim, that there was any delay. We'll talk more about it in a minute.

First, the breaking news though tonight and CNN's Jim Sciutto joins us now.

So, what are you learning about the possible future of the Intelligence Community once the President-elect takes office?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Our reporting is Trump wants to limit or reassess the power of the Director of National Intelligence. To be clear, this was something that was founded, recommended after 9/11, as part of the 9/11 commission hearings to have a Director of National Intelligence to oversee the 16 agencies, make sure that there was cooperation, intelligence sharing.

As you know, that was one of the concerns. Pre-9/11 is that those agencies weren't sharing that intelligence so that they could prevent attacks like we saw on 9/11. But I will say, this is not entirely new, there's been talk about this for some time. A lot of those agencies have bristled at the idea of having some sort of overarching body. So it's a little bit of an administrative thing.

Our understanding is, it's being pushed by his National Security adviser, General Michael Flynn, who I should note, was pushed out of the head -- of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Obama in part by the Director of National Intelligence. So there's some internal politics behind this as well.

COOPER: How concerned are people or how are they reacting inside the Intelligence Community as the President-elect continues to publicly cast doubts about their work?

SCIUTTO: Anderson, I say that the word I hear is dismay, right? I mean, you have intelligence agencies working very hard, oftentimes under very difficult, certainly, sometimes dangerous circumstances to keep the President and the government apprise of the threats, whether it's terrorism in North Korea, Russia, you name it, and you have the President-elect coming in and publicly via Twitter, you know, questioning not only their ability, their capability but really their politics here. So there's dismay. There's also confusion.

And we saw some of that this week where Donald Trump said yesterday that his intelligence briefing on Russian hacking was delayed. Fact is, it was never scheduled for yesterday. It was always at the end of the week after the president gets his own briefing on this review he ordered. So there is real concern inside those agencies as to what this means for them.

COOPER: And Trump, he has had intelligence briefings in the past with high ranking officials, is there a difference between the Trump they see in meetings and the message he's sending out in public?

SCIUTTO: There is. We hear from intelligence officials that the Trump that you see on Twitter is one thing, but in those briefings, those presidential daily briefings, which he's getting not every day but several times a week, that Trump is more differential, he asks, you know, substantive questions in those briefings. He's not berating them in private. It's just that then in public he dismisses them. And it's difficult for them to rectify what is the true Trump.

The trouble is, it's hard to rein in those public comments because it raises overall questions about the capabilities of the intelligence agencies, and when you have a real threat, if it's imminent attack on the U.S., a terror attack, North Korea, et cetera, you have the President-elect who is called into question in public and repeatedly --

COOPER: Right.

SCIUTTO: -- the capability of these organizations. They're very concerned.

COOPER: All right, Jim Sciutto. Jim, thanks.

As we said at the top, his public statements at least put Mr. Trump in conflict with a lot of intelligence professionals. It also leaves him at odds with a number of highly influential people from his own party. CNN Sara Murray has that.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Donald Trump's relentless skepticism toward U.S. Intelligence and praise for Julian Assange highlighting a sharp split between the President-elect and other GOP leaders.

[21:05:03] House Speaker Paul Ryan unleashing a wave of criticism against the WikiLeaks founder who published the hacked e-mails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: I think the guy is a sycophant for Russia. He leaks, he steals data, and compromises national security.

MURRAY: As Senator Lindsey Graham offers this advice to Trump.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Not only should he ignore Julian Assange, he should condemn him for what he's done to our country.

MURRAY: Assange insists his information isn't coming from the Russian government.

JULIAN ASSANGE, WIKILEAKS FOUNDER: Our source is not a state party. So the answer for our interactions is no.

MURRAY: As CIA Director Brennan questions his credibility.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: He's not exact lay bastion of truth and integrity.

MURRAY: And implores skeptics to wait for the upcoming intelligence report on Russia.

BRENNAN: I would suggest individuals who have not yet seen the report, who have not yet been briefed on it that they wait and see what it is that the Intelligence Community is putting forward before they make those judgments.

MURRAY: Today, Vice President-elect Mike Pence is backing up his boss's leeriness of U.S. intelligence.

GOV. MIKE PENCE, (R) VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think that the President-elect has expressed his very sincere and healthy American skepticism about intelligence conclusions. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Sara, has Donald Trump explained exactly why he distrusts these intelligence sources?

MURRAY: He has not explained it exactly for himself, but Sean Spicer who's the incoming White House Press Secretary told reporters earlier today that it's not the raw intelligence that Donald Trump is doubting but rather it's the conclusions that intelligence officials are drawing that Russia then meddled in the U.S. election. Spicer said that is what Donald Trump is hoping to press intelligence officials for on this meeting on Friday is a better explanation for how they were able to conclude that Russia did try to interfere in U.S. elections.

But there's another component to this, Anderson, and it's the fact that Donald Trump is personally offended by part of this. Sources say that they believe that he believes that this is an opportunity for intelligence officials to try to undermine his victory, to undermine his legitimacy as president. And so, there's a little bit of a point of pride explaining itself out here as well, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Sara, thanks for the update.

Perspective now from a former diplomat who knows firsthand how vital the relationship between decision makers and Intelligence Community can be, Eliot Cohen, is a professor of strategic studies at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. He's also author of the new book, "The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force".

I want to start by asking you about the -- this "Wall Street Journal" report which is just out tonight that Donald Trump's transition team, they're looking to restructure basically scale back the office of the director of National Intelligence and also kind of lower the staff numbers of the CIA in Langley and get more people out in the field. What do you make of this?

ELIOT COHEN, AUTHOR, "THE BIG STICK": I don't know. I guess I tuned to think this is a sort of a distraction from the feud that President- elect has decided to have with the Intelligence Community, a reception of issues. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is kind of an umbrella organization. There's been a lot of disagreement about whether even creating it was a good idea or not. But this is really, actually, pretty petty stuff and I -- it's not particularly important. What is important is the President-elect deciding that he knows better than the National Security Agency and the rest of the Intelligence Community.

COOPER: What do you think the impact of that is? I mean, the President-elect tweeting out, you know, kind of mocking the Intelligence Community, putting intelligence in quotes, obviously, putting Russian hacking in quotes. He clearly seems to believe that the Intelligence Community is far too politicized or in some way, he seems to be siding with Julian Assange over that.

COHEN: Who knows what he believes, but it's -- this is dangerous.

COOPER: Dangerous.

COHEN: It is dangerous. It sets up an antagonistic relationship between the Intelligence Community, which does exist to serve the President and the administration, and the President. And it seems to indicate that he has this kind of sleepwalker's confidence in his own judgment, in his own reading of things. And I think it sends a terrible message to the world that he prefers to side with Vladimir Putin and Julian Assange were both in different ways reprehensible characters.

COOPER: I might say though that, well, look, pushing back on the Intelligence Community is maybe a healthy thing, maybe it raises the bar, maybe it makes them, you know, scrub things even harder.

COHEN: Absolutely. Pushing -- you know, I was a government official for several years. And I spent a lot of time pushing back on the Intelligence Community. The way you do that is you get a lot of briefings, and they say things, and you say, well, explain to me, how do you know that and what is the logic chain here, and it's done not by tweets. It's done by hours of serious conversation.

You know, somebody like, say, former Vice President Dick Cheney was actually quite good at that. And despite what people think, the Intelligence Community did not mind being grilled by Dick Cheney. It made them better. But this was done quietly. It was done in secret. It was done in your office. It was not done by blasting out tweets which dismiss the Intelligence Community in favor of Russian dictator and a traitor.

[21:10:15] COOPER: The idea that he's tweeting out messages to North Korea or whether to North Korea, but I doubt (ph) North Korean that they're certainly going to read, this is uncharted waters. This is ...

COHEN: This is completely unprecedented, abnormal, and, again, it's dangerous.

Look, on the substantive policy towards North Korea, it might or might not be the right thing. But it's very important to do this in a deliberate way, to have these kinds of things argued out.

COOPER: In more than 140 characters.

COHEN: Right, in more than 140 characters and not at 3:00 a.m. And, you need to have your Secretary of State, your Secretary of Defense. You need to think through what are the possibilities, how could this play out.

This is reckless. And this will get us in trouble, because either he will commit himself to dangerous courses of action or he will equally possibly back down. And then, ironically, perhaps, the same thing that happened with President Obama, a red line that turns out not to mean anything. And, you know, part of the pattern here is he tweets something at 3:00 a.m. and Kellyanne Conway walks it back when she wakes up five or six hours later.

COOPER: I want to ask you about the book, "The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force". I mean, essentially, you are arguing that in this age where so much has -- this notion of soft power, you're basically pushing back on that saying, "Look, that military force, there is a role for that in a number, perhaps more than ever, in a number of circumstances."

COHEN: Yes, well, look, I -- you know, one thing I say is the limits of soft power not the soft power is not important. It is important to say put sanctions on the Russians or on the Iranians. We just need to understand that it has limits, you know.

No counties have been sanctioned more than North Korean. And, in very short order they'll be able to hit the continental United States with nuclear weapons.

Military power is tremendously important. And part of what the book is about is a case for what is really now the traditional American policy of global leadership. And what I try to argue about -- argue out in the book is the way in which military power undergirds that in places like Europe for example, or say in the South China Sea.

COOPER: Congratulations on the book. It's got great views --

COHEN: Thank you very much.

COOPER: -- and I look forward to it to reading it. Thank you so much for being with us.

COHEN: Thank you.

COOPER: A lot more ahead tonight, including a closer look at where U.S. intelligence agencies have indeed failed to get it right and where they're clearly succeeded.

Also the Pence factor, could he be the most powerful vice president since Dick Cheney? Take a closer look at that when we continue.


[21:15:13] COOPER: Breaking news tonight as Jim Sciutto reported, sources are telling us that Donald Trump is considering a shakeup that might limit the power of the Director of National Intelligence. It's happening in the middle of Mr. Trump's clash with the Intelligence Community. He justifies his skepticism in part by citing examples as he sees intelligence failures over the years. With more now on those failures and the success stories as well from CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Even as ISIS roars through its third year as a self-proclaimed caliphate in Northern Iraq and Syria, a debate is raging in the U.S. Did President Obama fail to heed early signs of the terror group's rise?

TRUMP: He's the founder of ISIS.

FOREMAN: Or, as he told "60 Minutes", did the Intelligence Community not sufficiently warn him about the threat?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.

FOREMAN: From the killing of Osama bin Laden to the steady march of drone strikes which have taken out dozens of terrorist leaders, the 16 agencies which officially comprised the Intelligence Community can claim many successes which have saved countless lives. For roughly $70 billion tax dollars a year, they run a global operation, tracking down bad guys, disrupting terror plots and crippling crime rings.

But there have been notable failures too, for example, while intelligence forces knew about the rise of al-Qaeda well before 2001, many security analysts say they badly missed the warning signs of the 9/11 attacks. There have been several so-called "Lone Wolf" terror attacks which have slipped below the intelligence radar.

And, of course, there is the war in Iraq. The invasion was driven forward by the Bush administration's insistence the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: What we're giving you our facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.

FOREMAN: But that was not true. And later the same officials who pushed for the tanks to roll insisted they too had been led astray.

POWELL: I'm not the investigator of the Intelligence Community, but if I was, we would be having very long meetings about this.

FOREMAN: Such finger pointing and the inherent secrecy of intelligence work can make it extremely difficult to get the facts straight.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the way that I describe it is that everybody.


FOREMAN: And in that environment figuring out whom to hold accountable can also require some pretty good gathering of intelligence. Anderson?

COOPER: Tom, thanks very much. Tom Foreman.

Plenty to talk about tonight with former Obama White House Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, and CNN "Inside Politics" anchor, John King.

Bill, the fact that in taking issue with the findings over the hackings that the President-elect pointed out that it comes from, "The same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," is that a fair comparison for him to make you think?

BILL DALEY, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think a president should question, obviously, any information he gets, but to challenge the -- what seems to be a unanimous opinion of the intelligence agencies and look at a glaring mistake of which the CIA and the other intelligence agencies have said obviously was a mistake that worldwide international agencies made. It's just starting a battle before you even president that I can't quite figure out what the purpose is.

He's going to have to depend -- the country depends on these men and women keeping us safe, and he will depend on their intelligence. He can't be doubting or going around them to try to get information from other sources. And that undermines their competence, obviously, and undermines their dedication, and questions it.

COOPER: John, I mean, also in such a public way, I mean, to be tweeting out sort of -- I mean I guess you can interpret his putting a quote around the word intelligence to describe the Intelligence Community, but it certainly, you know, seems to be sarcastic and kind of snide aside about the entire not just the CIA but the entire Intelligence Community.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": By just putting the word intelligence in quote, putting the words Russian hacking in quotes, suggesting that they're trying to cook the books in delaying a briefing which actually wasn't delayed. Mr. Trump's facts are wrong on that. It was originally scheduled for Friday when the report is finished. But putting all that in quote essentially mocking the Intelligence Community and then publicly saying that he -- look at Julian Assange, he's on television saying the Russians didn't do it, the Russians weren't the source. So he credits Julian Assange. He credits Vladimir Putin and he mocks the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Anderson, it's an academic conversation right now. He's the president-elect. But as Bill just noted, in 16 days he's the president.

And, never mind the Democratic criticism, no disrespect to Bill or any other Democrats speaking. It is more and more Republicans are getting very alarmed about this. The speaker today did an interview with Hugh Hewitt. He called Julian Assange a sycophant, a number of -- for the Russians, and other Republicans coming out and saying they hope the President-elect has a very quick turning of the page as he get set to become president.

[21:20:05] COOPER: Bill, do you think that might happen? I mean, you were obviously President Obama's Chief of Staff in the White House, you know how it works. Does -- I mean, does the president's mindset change when you start to get the daily briefings every day assuming he does the briefings?

DALEY: No, no. I think -- no, he'll get them if he wants them. But the fact of the matters is, I think, Donald Trump has proven over the last 15, 18 months that he's going to do it his way. It is very unconventional and there's no reason to think after his success in the election and what he believes is the fantastic transition, everything is fantastic, that there's any reason for him to change. I think that's his M.O. and it's going to continue. I think it's -- to question -- I had the honor of being there during the run up to the Osama bin laden raid.

And I saw what dedication the intelligence agencies and all of the different agencies that were brought to bear for that action gave for 10 years looking for Osama bin Laden and the sort of dedication.

When you question that, and you question their motives and you question their competence, and you're going to be president of the United States and lead these men and women who are out there risking their lives every day for our security, it's just a dangerous thing. Forget politically, for the nation. And for the -- for people who spend their lives protecting us. I just don't understand it. I think it's a disgraceful action by the President-elect.

COOPER: John, I mean, some supporters of Trump might say, "Well, look, he's pushing back, and that's not necessarily an unhealthy thing, that it basically raises the bar. It raises everybody's expectations and makes people work harder."

KING: No question. And I think after the Iraq war experience, a healthy skepticism is warranted. John Brennan, the CIA director who now serves President Obama but goes back through other Republican and Democratic administrations in his government service. As to most of the other -- most of them former military or current military people in the Intelligence Community, they have served Democratic and Republican president. Is it healthy to be skeptical?

Absolutely. What alarms people in the Intelligence Community is actually annoys people in the Intelligence Community and alarms people across the partisan spectrum here in Washington. Democrats and Republican and Career Foreign Service and Civil Service people is doing it so publicly.

Is doing it so publicly and mocking their words, undermining their words, undermining their findings. If he wants to say, "Hey, scrub it again," that's fine. And again post Iraq we should all be skeptical of what we get.

Here's what alarms people, Anderson, again, we're having a conversation about the President-elect, about things he has said during the campaign or during the transition. If you talk to military people or intelligence people here in Washington, they think this new president in his very early days and weeks in office may have to make a monumental decision about North Korea. If North Korea goes to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, if it rolls a missile like that out on the platform, what is Donald Trump going to say when the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies come to him with that intelligence?

Sometimes you get to send them back to scrub the books again. Bill knows this better than I do from being in the Oval Office in the Situation Room. Sometimes the president has to make a snap judgment.

COOPER: Bill Daley, appreciate you being here. John King as well. Thank you.

Well, you heard some pretty blunt assessments of Julian Assange there, but regardless of who likes him or despises him, it's fair to say Julian Assange is no stranger to controversy. Our Gary Tuchman tonight reports.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This video from 2007 was secret, until WikiLeaks released it in 2010.

U.S. Apache helicopter crew members see a group of suspected insurgents in Iraq and say they see rocket-propelled grenades. They get permission to fire. Turns out two journalists from Reuters are among the group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me know when you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Line them all up.



TUCHMAN: At least a dozen people killed in the attack, some innocent civilians, including the news crew. Release of this video helped make the founder of WikiLeaks, an Australian named Julian Assange, a household name.

Later in 2010, more than a quarter million confidential State Department cables were released by Assange and WikiLeaks. The documents revealing information that included Arab leaders were lobbying the U.S. to attack Iran and suggested U.S. diplomats were told to engage in low-level spying. Many politicians, Democrats and Republicans, outraged the classified information had been released.

REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: I am calling on the Attorney General in supporting his efforts to fully prosecute WikiLeaks and its founder for violating the Espionage Act and I'm also calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a foreign terrorist organization.

TUCHMAN: None of that happened. The following year, Julian Assange appeared on CBS's "60 Minutes".

ASSANGE: I'm sure there are certain views amongst the Hillary Clinton and her lot that we are subverting their authority. But you're right. We are subverting illegitimate authority. The question is whether the authority is legitimate or which is illegitimate.

[21:25:06] STEVE KROFT, CBS HOST, "60 MINUTES": Do you consider the U.S. State Department a legitimate authority?

ASSANGE: It's legitimate insofar as its actions are legitimate. It has actions that are not legitimate. TUCHMAN: Since 2006, millions of classified and sensitive military and diplomatic documents were released to and by Assange and WikiLeaks. And that's not the only controversy surrounding Assange. He's been holed up for more than four years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after being accused by Swedish authorities of a sexual assault, charges he's denied.

Ecuador granted him asylum after charges are brought. But even in the embassy WikiLeaks and Assange have been active. Just before the Democratic National Convention began this summer, WikiLeaks published thousands of leaked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee.

COOPER: The question of anger that your interfering in the U.S. election, you say this is what your -- that your readers are American and, therefore, it's OK?

ASSANGE: Well, it's what our readers demand. It is also our basic principles that the publication of the true information and that's important qualifier. True information about modern human institutions allows us to understand what they're doing and therefore to reform them.

TUCHMAN: With their continuing release the DNC documents and the months after the convention, the overwhelming consensus among U.S. intelligence is that the Russian government is behind the leaks of WikiLeaks. And here's what Assange said about that in his most recent T.V. appearance.

ASSANGE: We can say, we have said repeatedly over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party.

TUCHMAN: So who is Assange's source? He's not saying while the mystery about the man and his methods continues.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Well, a lot more news ahead. Mike Pence gave a taste of the role he's likely to play in the Trump administration, playing point man on Capitol Hill today signaling he plans to be an active vice president, details, ahead.


[21:30:16] COOPER: In 16 days, Mike Pence will become the 48th vice president of the United States. He is expected to be Donald Trump's point man on Capitol Hill where he's been laying the ground work with the GOP leadership with an eye toward quick action on an ambitious agenda for the new administration's first 100 days.

Today his focus obviously was one of the Trump's biggest campaign promises, Obamacare. CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny, reports.


PENCE: I couldn't be more humbled than more excited to be back in the Capitol today.

JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPENDENT: Mike Pence back in the Capitol, with a powerful portfolio as Donald Trump's vice president.

PENCE: We are 16 days away from the end of business as usual in Washington, D.C.

ZELENY: The first order of new business he said is a quick repeal of Obamacare. He laid out a roadmap for Republicans. At the very hour, President Obama also visited Capitol Hill, urging Democrats to fight. The dueling images of an outgoing president and an incoming vice president. Spoke volumes about Pence's standing in the new White House.

PENCE: American people have spoken. They want to see us repeal and replace Obamacare. And today my message to members of Congress is that we are going to be in the promise-keeping business.

ZELENY: The Vice President-elect's rising influence has to come clear throughout the transition from recommending Cabinet member to filling some key staff positions with his own confidants.

PENCE: Good morning to all.

ZELENY: Pence served in Congress for a dozen years. Railing against the health care law the day it passed.

PENCE: Some say we're making history. I say we're breaking history.

ZELENY: Today, he made clear he'll again be a fixture in the Capitol, setting up a working office just outside the House and Senate like Vice President Dick Cheney.

Republicans close to Pence tell CNN he hopes to model his vice presidency after Cheney's, with one key difference, he must also play the role of Trump whisper explaining and defending the president to skeptical Republicans.

Shortly after Trump tweeted a warning early today about repealing a law too quickly, "Republicans must be careful in that the Dem own the failed Obamacare disaster, with its poor coverage and massive increases," it was left to Pence to expand on that thought.

PENCE: And as he said this morning in a tweet, it will be important that we be careful as we do that, that we do that in a way that doesn't work a hardship on American families, will gain insurance through this program.

ZELENY: In addition to health care, Pence said the new administration would roll back Obama's legacy through executive actions and legislation, easing regulations, passing tax reform and an infrastructure program. While Trump still gives many Republicans heartburn, they see Pence as a far steadier hand. Arizona senator, Jeff Flake, is one of Pence's oldest friends in Congress, who has been critical of Trump.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: It's reassuring to all of us. I mean, Mike has spent 12 years in the House and four years as governor. He's extremely knowledgeable about the legislative process and he's always been a policy wonk.


ZELENY: The imprint of Mike Pence can be seen across the new Trump administration. He will play a key role in implementing that Trump agenda starting with Obamacare. But Republicans here on Capitol Hill also tell me they hope he'll be influential inside the White House on matters of foreign policy and the intelligence. Anderson?

COOPER: Jeff Zeleny. Jeff thanks.

A lot to discuss. Joining me right now, CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger and chief national correspondent, and back with us, "Inside Politics" anchor, John King.

John, it was a pretty striking visual today to see President Obama and Vice President-elect Pence on the Hill rather than Obama and Trump. How much does that say about what kind of role that Pence is going to have as vice president?

KING: We should not understate or overstate Mike Pence's role. There's no question he has key to Donald Trump, he is his number one legislative point person on Capitol Hill.

More importantly though, Anderson, he's the number one conduit for conservatives in Congress and elsewhere in Washington who still have doubts about Donald Trump, who still have worries about Donald Trump, and frankly still don't know Donald Trump and what direction he will take as president.

So Pence is their point person, because they know he has Donald Trump's ear. They know Donald Trump is grateful for his loyalty on the campaign trail. We don't know actually how much influence Mike Pence has in the room one on one with Donald Trump. Make no mistake Donald Trump is the boss, he made that clear during the campaign. Pence for example is among those who went to Donald Trump at one point, I'm told, and said, "You should back off with all that Twitter stuff." Donald Trump hasn't done that. But when it comes to Capitol Hill, relationships bridged building a conduit for conservative, he's critical.

COOPER: Yeah, and, Gloria, I mean, it's certainly not the first time, to John's point, that Pence has served this Trump emissary to Capitol Hill.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, he has met for example with Paul Ryan during the campaign and after, to make sure that that relationship has smoothed out. He's also met with some Republicans who are not friends of Trump like Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

[21:35:01] I think what he really is in a way is sort of the Trump translator. He explains Trump to Congress and explains Congress to Trump. I think at this point that's kind of his biggest role.

And I think one way to judge his influence will be to see if Ivanka, Trump and Jared are still behind him because after all they were the ones who really wanted him in that job. He has their trust. And I think if Donald Trump, who I believe trust him now, continues to draw him in that inner circle, then I think we could see him have more and more influence, just like the family does.

COOPER: Right, and, John, I mean, I think you made that point as well and that's an important point beyond an emissary to Capitol Hill. How much power will Pence have in that White House? I mean, it said that he wants to model his vice presidency on Dick Cheney who certainly had a lot of power and a lot of, you know, personal connection in terms of policy with the president.

KING: There's no question. George W. Bush gave Dick Cheney a broad portfolio. There's no question Dick Cheney probably expanded his portfolio even beyond what he was specifically given by President George W. Bush.

Look, in Mike Pence, you have essentially during the campaign we talked about how Trump was the anti-Obama. In many ways, Pence is the anti-Trump. He's trusted on Capitol Hill. He's known on Capitol Hill.

Look, you don't get into this stage of politics without having a pretty healthy ego, but he's very soft spoken, has unassuming presence and air about him sort of the Midwestern approach to him, very well respected on Capitol Hill. He's a movement conservative, but Democrats like him too. They don't agree with him much but they like him too.

We won't know until 100 days in or more whether, you know, what his actual influence with the president is. But at the moment, again, it's an incredibly important role in large part because Trump trusts him and doesn't know Congress.

But again, I talked to a Republican senator last night who said of Mike Pence, you know, he's one of us. He's a true conservative. Donald Trump is Donald Trump. I don't think that was meant as critically as it sounds when you stay it, but a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill still don't know Trump. They don't know when push comes to shove in a tough negotiation. Will he listen to Democrats? Will he go back to some of his prior Democratic tendencies? Or will he be one of them? But they do trust Pence.

BORGER: You know --

COOPER: Go ahead, Gloria.

BORGER: One thing I was going to say, Anderson, is that these relationships between presidents and vice presidents kind of ebb and flow. This -- the White House is a really small place. And either a president grows to like his vice president, trust him and depend on him, like I think Barack Obama has grown to trust Joe Biden, I think they were less close in the first term, more close in the second term, or their relationship can split apart as it did with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who ended up clashing really over foreign policy.

And so the question really is, does Donald Trump want a yes man or just Donald Trump want somebody who when you disagrees with him will tell him, "Why I disagree with you and this is what you ought to do," and then, will he listen to his vice president?

COOPER: Yeah. Gloria Borger, John King, thank you both.

KING: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, just ahead, the President's club is obviously a small one. On January 20th, he's going to add the 45th member and former presidents from both parties will be there to watch, putting differences aside even this year. Plus -- so we'll take a look at that.

Plus the heart stopping video that has a happy ending when a toddler saves his twin, doesn't end there though. The skeptics now are weighing in.


[21:41:52] COOPER: Well, no matter how ugly or contentious the presidential election is, and let's be frank, the last one was in a class of its own.

Come January 20th, former presidents and first ladies traditionally show up at the inauguration ceremony putting any party differences aside. Just before President Obama's first inauguration, Mr. Obama gathered past presidents for a meeting and for this unique photo.

Again, despite the nastiness of the past year, looks as though respect for the tradition's going to continue. Jimmy Carter has apparently RSVPD to yes. So have George W. and Laura Bush. Even Bill and Hillary Clinton are going to be there.

Joining us now is CNN presidential historian and Rice University professor, Douglas Brinkley, also historian, Jon Meacham, has written several presidential biographies, including the Pulitzer Prize winning, "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House".

Jon, the fact that t he Clintons have confirmed they're going to be at the inauguration, obviously not odd for a former president and first lady but rare for a defeated candidate to be there, isn't it?

JON MEACHAM, HISTORIAN: Well, unless you were maybe the vice president or you would be there anyway in the course of things. So, I think it's a sign of great grace on the part of the Bush 43s and the Clintons, both of whom for the target obviously of a lot of not only tweets but a sustained attacks from Trump to come to the inauguration. It's a fairly recent thing actually for former presidents who were not immediately going out of office to come. And I think the reflection of the partisan atmosphere is so poisonous, that with the perspective of years, former presidents tend to get a larger view and want to try to lend a sense of unity to those occasions.

COOPER: But, Jon, that's not something that always happen, former presidents didn't always go?

MEACHAM: No, not unless you had some reason to be there. One of the complications in recent years is because, obviously for -- I think, what, 25 percent of my lifetime a Bush has been president. And so you have fathers there who happen to be president. But for former presidents, to take pains to be there is something that's a relatively recent vintage.

COOPER: Interesting. Doug, I mean, it's interesting, as far as the Bushes go, obviously George W. Bush former president but his brother also got soundly defeated by Donald Trump.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: There's no love lost for the Bush family and Donald Trump. They don't really like him, but reality is reality.

I've been amazed that George W. Bush is kind of nowhere to be seen or heard from. He's there in Dallas running his presidential library, but he'll be there. But I shouldn't going to be looking on George W. Bush and Laura very much. I'll be looking at Bill and Hillary Clinton.

As you said at the beginning, Anderson, it was a brutal campaign, and there is going to be Hillary Clinton having to absorb the fact that she lost to this guy.

COOPER: Right.

BRINKLEY: And I think if there are big ratings for the inauguration, a lot of people going are going to be looking at the body language, like we do at state of the union addresses or how Bill and Hillary Clinton interacting with the Trumps.

COOPER: Right. And where they're going to be seated and --


BRINKLEY: Jon was mentioning state and always (inaudible) Ulysses S. Grant wouldn't ride in a carriage with Andrew Johnson. And so Johnsons just sought in the White House.

COOPER: Really?

BRINKLEY: He wouldn't come to the event. You can go through a lot of these elections where -- Jon Meacham was saying is true, they just -- it didn't happen like this, but longevity is means you live longer, so you're going to be a longer ex-President and air transports, easier to get to D.C. than it was in the old days. COOPER: It's really -- I mean, whether -- no matter how contentious something is, Jon, it's really about honoring the tradition of this, I mean, honoring their peaceful transfer of power.

MEACHAM: Well, nobody knows what it's like to be a president except those who have been president. And you used the phrase club, which is exactly right. Our friends Michael Duffy and Nancy Gibbs wrote a wonderful book called, "The Presidents Club". And I think there is a certain fraternity and that's going to be the right word for now, among those who have been there.

One of the things that's so interesting about everyone responding yes in this moment is, of all the moments that if -- for instance if Bush 43 had wanted to stay in Dallas or be off, as Doug was saying in Africa working on some of his projects, this would be the one. This is a man, the President-elect who accused him of falsifying the road to the Iraq war, of being asleep at the switch on 9/11.

But the Bushes in particular, both 41 and 43 have a reverence for the office that I think they believe that in a contentious moment, a show of comity, a show of unity is important for the country.

COOPER: Yeah, such an incredible photo there, Doug, of all those former presidents with then President Obama. Doug Brinkley, thank you, Jon Meacham as well.

Up next, The Nanny Company nanny had post online, that a lot of people are talking about, a dresser falling onto a two-year-old boy who's pinned underneath until his twin brother saves him. The boys were not hurt. Now there are questions about whether or not the whole thing is a hoax. What the parents are saying when we continue.


COOPER: A heart stopping nanny cam videos gone viral online. You'll see it in a moment as you watch. Keep this on mind on average a child dies in America every two weeks from furniture or T.V. falling on them.

[21:50:03] Thankfully, for Utah mom and dad no one was hurt when a dresser came crashing down on the bedroom of their two-year-old twins but still there are skeptics who wonder if it was all a stunt. Randi Kaye tonight has the video on the controversy.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is it a hoax or brotherly heroism? It all started in a bedroom of these two-year-old boys. Bowdy and Brock, twin brothers from Utah, had climbed into the drawers of their bedroom dresser. Then this happened.

Little Brock trapped underneath it. Unsure what to do, Bowdy steps back to asses the situation, then climbs on top of the dresser, likely adding even more pressure, but suddenly, his rescue plan becomes crystal clear. After one more fail to attempt to lift the eight door dresser Bowdy, firmly plants his pajama at feet and uses what some are calling "superhuman strength" to give the dresser a good shove. With that Brock is freed after a harrowing two minutes and not even a scratch.

By now, it's about 8:20 a.m., their mom wakes up and checks the feed from the nanny cam in the boys room.

KAYLI SHOFF, MOTHER OF TWINS: And I just saw the dresser had fallen down, and no kids to be seen. So, I jump out of bed, run down to stairs, fling open the door.

KAYE: Kayli Shoff says she found her boys playing as if nothing had ever happened. She and her husband turned to the nanny cam video for answers.

RICKY SHOFF, FATHER OF TWINS: I'm like how did this happen? And then I'm watching the whole thing unfold for like a minute and a half it is under it --

K. SHOFF: He's strong but we think there's a little bit of extra help in there.

KAYE: On his Facebook page, the boy's father wrote "We are so grateful for the bond that these twin brother share. We know Bowdy was not alone in moving the dresser off of Brock and feel blessed that he is OK."

But now some internet slews are suggesting this heroic rescue is nothing more than a hoax. They're asking, why was the nanny cam pointed directly at the dresser? How did the parents not hear the dresser fall and why was the dresser empty? The Shoff's say, they'd empty the dresser because the boys throw their clothes everywhere.

Critics also find the father's connection to the company that sells the nanny cam he works for Vivint Smart Home very curious. Ricky Shoff told CNN it's simply a coincidence.

R. SHOFF: It's ironic that it actually works at my house like we caught something like that.

KAYE: Both insisting they'd never risk their boy's safety for a stunt.

K. SHOFF: Why would we put our child's in harm's way?

KAYE: Despite all the doubt the Shoff say, their goal is just to raise awareness.

K. SHOFF: A lot of people are like I bolted my dresser now.

R. SHOFF: Thank heavens like it would then turn out worse than it did.


KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Florida.

COOPER: Coming up, something to make you smile at the end of a long day. Fans of "The Bachelor" especially won't want to miss this. Or people who don't like it either. "The RidicuList" is next.


[21:56:15] COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList". In the newest season of "The Bachelor" is upon us, the premise of this show, 30 women competing to marry some guy, it sounds like it should be illegal but it has become an institution. This is the 21st season, that's right. The show is 21, meaning you can legally drink and it's going to need it. Watch this from the season premier a few nights ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like that. Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As so to let you know. I'm so excited to meet you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go, here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I dolphinitely can't wait to talk you more inside.



COOPER: First of all, they ripped off the costume from what would happens live from Andy Cohen Show. The dancing shark, that's something he's had for a long time. But we should just -- that guy should just marry that woman and be done with it, even if he didn't care for the dolpinitely joke, you have to -- she came in there with a real sense of purpose. Anyway, shall we move on? Can we just keep going? Purpose, get it?

After 20 seasons, I guess you got to do something to stand out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I think about finding the one. It's, you know, someone who's kind of a strong personality and feels empowered and someone who is truly my partner.


COOPER: OK, that's best cutaway ever.

"The Bachelor" is all about drama in the house but the real question is, what do the other women think?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The other girl had dressed up as a dolphin. I believe is it a dolphin or whale.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it a shark or a dolphin? The noises are --






COOPER: I still think it's a shark, they ripped off from Andy. I take you back, bachelor do not marry that woman. She is clearly wearing a shark costume, she thinks it's a dolphin. I have one question for this woman that I think the bachelor will be interested in as well.

Madam, if you are in fact a dolphin -- I'm not going to say that. Where -- oh man. I'm not going to say that. The writer of this segment wanted me to ask where is your blow hole? I'm not going to say that. She's got shark gills, she's got shark teeth, she's a shark. Shockingly in bachelorville, correctly identifying animals is low on the priority list.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love that she's wearing heel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's my spirit animal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be friends with the dolphin-shark.


COOPER: And again, she's wearing heel. That is a shark. I've been swimming with sharks. I know a shark when I see it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that a dolphin call?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's calling for him, that's the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You are just milking it.


COOPER: For the record, sir, you cannot milk a shark. The shark's name is Alexis of course, she's 23 and according to information there on the screen she wants to be a dolphin trainer.

And ladies and gentlemen, that is it. "The Bachelor" has officially morphed into the series that spoofed it called "Burning Love". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope you like nice things because I have a lot of money.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have my numbers for you.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was my Social Security number.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want my physical appearance to distract you from the real me so I will be wearing this costume until we get to know each other a little bit better.