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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trump Team Responds To Russia Reports; Interview with Kellyanne Conway; "The Messy Truth" Town Hall to Air at 9PM. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 11, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Thanks very much for joining us.
Tonight, we have breaking news in the wake of President-elect Trump's first formal press conference in nearly six months. Just a couple of days ago, the focus was expected to be on how he plans to untangle business ties.
But today's Q&A turned into more, much more after CNN's reporting about Mr. Trump last week being presented with classified documents alleging that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about him. And that reporting was sourced to multiple U.S. officials, we should point out.
And you should also know that CNN's reporting did not include a 35- page opposition research report containing unverified and very salacious allegations that those documents apparently drew from. We have not reported the details of those documents. The website BuzzFeed dumped them onto the Internet, so did others. CNN did not. Those are the facts.
However, Mr. Trump's spokesman, Sean Spicer, today, started the much anticipated press conference by lumping our well-sourced reporting with what BuzzFeed did. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The fact that BuzzFeed and CNN made the decision to run with this unsubstantiated claim is a sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Again, we simply did not publish the 35-page dossier or whatever you want to call it, unsubstantiated allegations. Nor did we link to it, not even to the BuzzFeed story that mentioned it.
I asked senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway about that and more in a wide-ranging interview. I spoke to her just a short time ago.
COOPER: Kellyanne, at today's press conference, Sean Spicer conflated the unsubstantiated claims that BuzzFeed released with what CNN reported. And I was surprised by what he said because he said BuzzFeed and CNN made the decision to run with the unsubstantiated claim. That's simply not true. I mean, what CNN said is that CNN is not reporting on details of that memo, as it is not independently corroborated the specific allegations.
Do you acknowledge CNN did not release the 35-page unsubstantiated claims against Donald Trump and it was misleading and untrue for Sean Spicer to suggest otherwise?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP: No, our incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, was exactly right, as was the president-elect, Anderson. CNN went first yesterday and BuzzFeed went second.
COOPER: We didn't report what BuzzFeed reported.
CONWAY: I didn't say that you did but you linked to it in your story.
COOPER: But Sean Spicer said we did.
CONWAY: Let me just tell you, Anderson, let's back up. I know CNN must be feeling the heat today of having a headline yesterday at around 6:30 p.m. that said, quote, "Intel chiefs presented Trump with information that Russia could compromise -- Russia had information to compromise him." That is just false.
And as you saw through NBC News reports today, tweets from people at "Politico", no friend of Donald Trump's, and a lot of -- frankly, a lot of outlets, print and electronic outlets, so reluctant and hesitant to go forward with anything close to what CNN or BuzzFeed did.
COOPER: Again, you're conflating what Buzz --
CONWAY: You went first. No, I'm conflating nothing.
COOPER: You're conflating what BuzzFeed --
CONWAY: I just know what CNN did.
Anderson, you know, you are responsible journalist. You've gone all over the world. You're widely respected.
COOPER: What's inaccurate about what CNN reported?
CONWAY: Oh, my goodness, the whole headline. Go read the entire story. Four bylines and a story that's just not true that the president-elect was presented with this information that it was appended in a two-page document to the briefing. NBC has said it was not. Other people have said it was not. They're now receiving --
COOPER: NBC has said it was not verbally presented and CNN never said it was verbally presented. In fact, we said, CNN, in their reporting, based on multiple sources, said we don't know if it was verbally presented. What CNN said was and I quote, "classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump. Multiple U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN."
CONWAY: Anderson, your sources are not correct. And the fact is that --
COOPER: So, you're saying in that intelligence briefing there was no information in any of the documents that -- of that two-page summary?
CONWAY: Two things on that. Number one, we don't discuss the classified information that is presented in intelligence briefings --
COOPER: Well, you just said it wasn't true.
CONWAY: Excuse me, but, Anderson, if you want me to talk -- I know CNN is feeling the heat today. But I'm gracious enough to come --
COOPER: I think you guys are feeling the heat.
CONWAY: -- on and discus it.
We feel -- what heat do we feel? That you got this raw information, this complete ridiculous fake news, actually just fake is --
COOPER: It's actually been backed up by not only multiple sources but other news agencies, "New York Times," Washington --
COOPER: So, go ahead.
CONWAY: I'm surprised you're arguing with me. It has not been backed up by credible news source us and you know as well as I do that these rumors were running around for months. Every news outlet was chasing these rumors.
COOPER: We're not reporting rumors.
CONWAY: Anderson, because CNN went first and had this breathless report, everybody said it was a bombshell, earth-shattering report last night.
COOPER: We didn't say it was a bombshell.
CONWAY: BuzzFeed then went ahead -- yes, you did.
[20:05:02] Yes, it did. It says right here: Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian effort to compromise him.
COOPER: Where's the word bombshell?
CONWAY: That's not true. Your headline is wrong.
Then Seth Meyers said that he continue fronted me on the bombshell. None of it is true.
CONWAY: I think a day later -- can you tell me that you would -- can you tell me would you run the same story today knowing what you know, everything that's happened?
CONWAY: Because it seems -- you would, wow, because the executive editor of "The New York Times" said they saw this information and they couldn't corroborate. They couldn't verify it.
COOPER: They were talking about the BuzzFeed story. They're talking about the BuzzFeed story.
CONWAY: And so were you. You linked to --
COOPER: No, we said --
CONWAY: Why do you linked to the BuzzFeed story in your report?
COOPER: We said we cannot corroborate. We're not reporting what they released. In fact, Jake Tapper has been very critical of what BuzzFeed has done.
CONWAY: If you couldn't corroborate it, why would you even link to it? Why are linking to fake news?
COOPER: We did not link to it.
CONWAY: Why are linking to this stuff? You know the Michael Cohen -- you know the Michael Cohen who is mentioned in that report is not the Michael Cohen who works at the Trump organization. This might --
COOPER: We never said he was.
CONWAY: You're linking to the BuzzFeed report.
COOPER: We're not linking to the BuzzFeed report.
CONWAY: It's mentioned in here. I'm looking at the updated CNN report. I read it right before we came on air. And absolutely you know people -- why did you -- why did you run a story, why run a story based on anonymous sourcing that now has been rebutted about a two- page appendix that may not be true?
COOPER: So, you're saying there was no two-page summary that was included in briefing material?
CONWAY: The president-elect was asked that question today. You should refer to his answer. But I will tell you --
COOPER: No, you can answer it. He said -- he said -- he --
CONWAY: No, I wasn't in the briefing.
COOPER: OK. So you can't say whether or not -- you're saying it's not true but you're saying also you can't say --
CONWAY: What did the president-elect say when he was asked?
COOPER: I don't know, you tell me.
CONWAY: Well, then you didn't pay attention to the press conference. You're relying on CNN's unverified sources --
COOPER: I just watched the press conference. I just don't want to misquote the president-elect. I assume you know what the president- elect said today.
CONWAY: I sure do.
COOPER: He said he doesn't want to talk about --
COOPER: He said he doesn't want to talk about -- he won't talk about what happened in the intelligence briefings.
CONWAY: Right. He shouldn't. It's called an intelligence briefing. Anderson, are you comfortable that --
COOPER: If this didn't happen in an intelligence briefing, then you can talk about it. If this wasn't a part of the briefing --
CONWAY: Are you comfortable -- were your four journalists in the intelligence briefing? Were the officials who leaked to the media in the intelligence briefing? No, no, no, no, no. There were four intelligence officials and the briefer.
COOPER: So, on the one hand -- but, Kellyanne, what you're saying doesn't make sense. On the one hand you're saying our reporting is inaccurate. On the other hand, you're saying you don't know if it was in the intelligence briefing and you can't say even if you did know, right?
CONWAY: I can tell you that credible news reports today say that it was not in there. COOPER: An NBC News report based on one source, an NBC News report
based on one source.
CONWAY: What is your based on?
COOPER: Multiple sources and "The New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal" as well say that.
CONWAY: No. Excuse me. You know who put this collection of raw material is, right?
COOPER: We're not reporting that raw material. We're not reporting that this person -- we're not basing our reporting on what this person did. Of course, it was opposition research. CNN is not BuzzFeed.
I just wish you guys would acknowledge and just be straightforward. I get why politically it makes sense for you to link CNN with what BuzzFeed did, but as Jake Tapper has repeatedly said on the air, he doesn't approve. He's one of the reporters on this. He certainly doesn't approve of what BuzzFeed did. I certainly would not have dumped all this unsubstantiated allegations. I think it's unfair.
CONWAY: But now that it's out there, CNN is all too happy to refer to it, aren't you?
COOPER: We're not reporting it. No, we've mentioned none of it on the air. We have not talked about any details on the air.
CONWAY: It's on your website. But anyway, it's on CNN.com. But here's the thing, now, you'll get lots of clicks. But here's the thing, Anderson --
COOPER: Well, I encourage people to go online.
CONWAY: CNN and BuzzFeed -- CNN and BuzzFeed have a lot in common. You both were absolutely convinced and told your viewers Hillary Clinton would win this election. That's why --
COOPER: You can't stick to what we're talking about now?
CONWAY: Oh, no, no, this is what we're talking about because the excitement, the fury about hacking reached a fever pitch after the election results where neither what was expected or desired by CNN, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the whole crew. OK?
If cybersecurity was such a big priority to this administration and the Democratic Party and its apologists in the media, then why didn't we do more about it over the last eight years? Why when 21 million personnel files were hacked of innocent Americans to the Office of Personnel Management by China, President Obama basically gave them a slap on the wrist? Now, we're all talking about --
COOPER: I know you like to pivot, I get it.
CONWAY: I'm not pivoting. This is -- that's actually real news. That actually happened.
CONWAY: That's not unsourced, unnamed --
COOPER: I guess what you still have not answered -- I guess what you still haven't answered, though, is what is inaccurate in our reporting? Because you said you weren't in the briefing, you don't know if what we're reporting is true or not.
[20:10:00] You weren't in the briefing. And I guess you haven't heard anything about what was in the briefing from anybody who was there.
Can you deny that what we reported, not what BuzzFeed, all that unsubstantiated stuff, which we're not reporting, what we reported, how can you say it's not true?
CONWAY: I think if you link to something on your website, you're reporting it.
COOPER: Again, you're not answering the question. How can you say it's not true?
CONWAY: No, no, hold on. You can't say you're not reporting it if it's on your website.
COOPER: You can't answer this question. What is inaccurate about our reporting?
CONWAY: Sure, I can. Here's the answer, here's the answer -- if the four intelligence officials that gave the top secret briefing last week that some fools think they should leak to the media when it's a top secret intelligence briefing for a reason so they we're all protected, everybody, then why according to your own report last night -- "report" used as a loose word here -- why do they not tell the president-elect about it?
Because your own reporting says that there's no confirmation that they briefed him orally. If it was so darn important --
COOPER: Right. I appreciate you acknowledging that.
CONWAY: And it's worthy -- well, hold on. If it's worthy of a CNN screaming headline that became this huge fake news story, then why did they not brief him? They had an opportunity. They were here in Trump Tower. Why didn't they tell him if it was so important? You know it's important --
COOPER: I don't have the answer to that. We don't have --
CONWAY: -- politics not intelligence. I have the answer.
COOPER: We report on what we know and --
CONWAY: It's important to politics, not intelligence.
COOPER: We report on what our sources are telling us and what our sources said. We could not get any confirmation whether or not this was verbally discussed. And we acknowledge that.
CONWAY: Why run with it? Why release it first and report it sometime in the future?-
COOPER: Because if it's significant enough to be -- if it's significant enough to be in the briefing documents, then it seems significant. The fact that whether it's not -- for whatever the reason, they decided to have it be in the briefing documents, that is news.
COOPER: We're going to continue this interview. It goes on for quite a lot. We want to play every minute and second for you. We're not editing it at all. We want you to see the entire interview.
And just keep in mind, Kellyanne Conway keeps mentioning that we linked to the BuzzFeed article. That is simply not true and we're going to prove it to you at the end of this interview, in fact, with the very thing that Kellyanne Conway has tweeted as evidence of our link is simply not a link.
At the top of the next hour, "The Messy Truth", the Van Jones' town hall, but more with Kellyanne Conway when we come back.
[20:15:53] COOPER: Before the break, you heard Trump's senior advisor Kellyanne Conway take issue with reporting concerning the president- elect and Russia. What you did not hear is any factually accurate criticism of our reporting. I continue trying to list (ph) that in part two of our conversation.
COOPER: If it's significant enough to be in the briefing documents it seems significant. The fact that whether it's not -- for whatever the reason they decided to have it be in the briefing documents, that is news, no?
CONWAY: What if it's not in the briefing documents, Anderson? What will CNN do? COOPER: Well, if our report is wrong, we'll acknowledge that.
CONWAY: Really? Will heads roll because they didn't after the election when all the polling were wrong, all the pundits were wrong?
COOPER: Are you telling me right now -- but you've yet to say --
CONWAY: All the chyrons were. All the consultants were wrong. All the anchors were wrong.
COOPER: You're talking about polling during the election, which, yes, all that data --
CONWAY: No, I'm asking -- I just don't think that you'll clean house if the report is wrong, if there wasn't a two-page appendix because you haven't cleaned house yet. Not as the outlet --
COOPER: What you think and what is true are not necessarily the same thing. So, I'm trying to figure out from you what you can say is true and what is not. And you cannot -- you cannot take issue with any specific that we have reported. I've yet to hear you say specifically that is not true.
CONWAY: It's not true.
COOPER: It's not true that those were briefing documents?
CONWAY: Here's what is true.
COOPER: It's not true that that was in any of the briefing documents? You're saying that categorically? How do you know that?
CONWAY: It's true you have no evidence of it. Other than unnamed sources, you don't have the briefing documents. That's what's true, because they would not have access to the briefing documents.
COOPER: You don't know who the sources are, but we have multiple sources. And again, this is something also that "The New York Times".
CONWAY: Tell them to come forward. Tell them they can have this chair anytime. Tell them to come forward. Why are these unnamed sources -- who are they protecting, except Democrats --
COOPER: This is a red herring. You're just it's like you got -- you're trying to distract from my question which is you do not have information whether it's true or not.
CONWAY: Anderson, you can use words like pivot, distract, red herring all you want. The fact is that the media have a 16 percent approval rating for a reason. It's been earned. And it's crap like this that really undergirds why Donald Trump won. In fact, you're doing him a favor again. This was an anti-elitist election. It was rejection of everybody thinks they know better than people.
COOPER: I'm trying to get a sense of --
CONWAY: This report is very concerning, very concerning.
COOPER: You say it's not true but you can't say whether it's true or not. I get the anger over the BuzzFeed stuff. I thought that was -- when I read that, it was totally unsubstantiated. We're not reporting that. I guess I don't understand -- I guess actually, I think because I think it's politics for you to try to link all the reporters together. It seems unfair and frankly disingenuous.
CONWAY: No. Actually, very few people came to CNN's defense today. I'm sure you're aware of that.
COOPER: Actually, Shepard Smith on FOX did which I thought was interesting and actually pretty --
CONWAY: That's a cherry pick. Great.
Well, anybody else on FOX or anybody else? I don't see people rushing to CNN's defense. I saw a lot of pushback, frankly.
COOPER: I don't know. I haven't talked to Sean Hannity today. I'm sure you guys have a couple times. But --
CONWAY: Well, you can pick on FOX all you want, but I've been on other networks today. Sean Spicer has. The president-elect gave a press conference in front of over 400 journalists, credentialed journalists who wanted to cover this, and they're not out there saying, linking to CNN's report. And there's a reason for that, because it is unnamed, unsourced folks.
And you can -- so, if you say -- let me ask you a question because you're a journalist and I'm not.
COOPER: I should point out "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal" actually matched what our reporting was.
CONWAY: If you say that CNN's not reporting on something but it's on your website, does that mean CNN is not reporting on it? Because I think they are.
COOPER: BuzzFeed is not on our website.
CONWAY: OK. The BuzzFeed report, the BuzzFeed story is not linked on your website, it's not mentioned in the story?
COOPER: I don't know. I don't know all of what's on (INAUDIBLE) programming. I'm told it's not, but I don't believe that it is. I find it weird that CNN and frankly if CNN linked to the BuzzFeed
stuff, that seems to me inappropriate. And if CNN does that, I would not -- I would not support that.
But as far as I know, that is not the case. I'm going to check out our website and I urge people to go to our website right now and check it out for themselves.
CONWAY: Anderson, do you think that BuzzFeed or anybody else after months of deciding against publishing specious, scurrilous, unverified, uncorroborated junk in a Democratic opposition research document, do you think they would have released it last night had CNN not preceded it with its own report?
[20:20:04] I doubt it. There was a nexus here.
COOPER: The last time I read BuzzFeed, I saw a headline that said like ten top sex toys that was going to improve your sex life. I don't read BuzzFeed.
CONWAY: OK, now, you're insulting BuzzFeed.
COOPER: I'm just not interested. I don't read BuzzFeed, so I am not going to speak for them or defend them. I don't think they should have published unsubstantiated allegations against the president-elect of the United States. I think that's inappropriate --
CONWAY: Maybe they would not have, maybe they would not have had the imprimatur of CNN, the vaunted name of CNN, gone first. You went first. They were second.
COOPER: So, your problem is that we reported something based on multiple sources, that then co-corroborated also by "The New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal" and others, you're saying --
CONWAY: No, not about the two pages. It's been pushed back by NBC News and others tonight. We know that.
COOPER: NBC News based on one source and what they said is that it wasn't verbally presented, and we never said it was.
CONWAY: Anderson, do you think it should have been, though? I mean, if it's worthy --
COOPER: I don't know. I can't speak --
CONWAY: Do you think it should have been verbally presented?
COOPER: I can't speak --
CONWAY: No, no, I'm asking you as a smart person who loves America.
COOPER: I'm not going to speak for the intelligence officials and what they chose to brief or not brief. CONWAY: OK, but then it's not important, right? Because they were in
the room. They could have told him. Why not brief --
COOPER: I have no idea. That's for your judgment. I have no idea.
We stand by our reporting which was we don't know whether it was actually verbally briefed. We don't have reporting on that. All we have based on multiple sources, which CNN stands by 100 percent, was that this was in the material. Not the 35-page, salacious, unsubstantiated document that BuzzFeed later put out. But some sort of a summary about it. That's what our reporting was.
CONWAY: So, just so we're clear and we have good relations with the press here in the Trump White House, if it turns out that the two pages are not true, do not exist somehow, then CNN will take corrective measures about that? Because you released first and --
COOPER: I certainly think they should. I certainly think they should.
COOPER: I think everybody in this business who stands by their reporting, if they do it wrong -- if they get it wrong, they should acknowledge that right away.
CONWAY: And I think the point that Sean Spicer --
COOPER: And I think that's important.
CONWAY: The point that Sean Spicer and the president-elect were trying to make today is very simple. It's that many outlets refuse to go where CNN went and separately --
COOPER: No, many outlets refuse to publish a 35-page unsubstantiated document, which is what CNN also did.
CONWAY: They've also refused to say that CNN had this "report", quote/unquote. I'm using the term liberally. Had this report that there was a two-page appendix that somehow said something that was so important to the security of our nation that nobody bothered to brief the president-elect and perhaps even President Obama that --
COOPER: Not everybody has the same sourcing, obviously. You know that. Some people have better sourcing than others. And CNN is standing by their reporting.
CONWAY: I'll tell you, everyone has unnamed sourcing, though.
COOPER: OK. My only point -- CONWAY: Unnamed. This is political. It's political.
COOPER: I respect you coming on and talking about this. But my only point I want to get across is I just don't understand -- I think it's unfair to conflate the two and whether whatever the reasons y'all are doing that, I'm not sure. You know, I have ideas but I just don't think that's professional. It's not true.
CONWAY: You should take that up with other journalists because those who mentioned this issue at all today mentioned both CNN and BuzzFeed together, in print, on Twitter, on Facebook.
COOPER: Right. Well, those people -- anybody who conflated it as the same reporting, that's inaccurate reporting.
CONWAY: Wasn't conflated as the same reporting.
COOPER: Just like what Sean Spicer said is inaccurate.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We're going to have the rest of my interview with Kellyanne Conway, next, bringing the entire interview to you.
Also ahead, Van Jones and his live hour town hall about President Obama's legacy and Trump's upcoming presidency.
[20:27:49] COOPER: We've been showing my interview with Kellyanne Conway. I spoke with her just before airtime night, and press her to give any specifics of what she and Trump team found to be inaccurate in our reporting.
Here now is the final part of the interview and then we'll get reaction from tonight's panel.
CONWAY: Those who mentioned this issue at all today mentioned CNN and BuzzFeed together, in print, on Twitter, on Facebook.
COOPER: Right. Well, those people -- anybody who conflated it as the same reporting, that's inaccurate reporting.
CONWAY: Wasn't conflated as the same reporting.
COOPER: Just like what Sean Spicer said is inaccurate.
CONWAY: It wasn't conflated as the same reporting, Anderson. It was conflated as the same series of events that have led to this conversation.
But, look, the fact is that Donald Trump last week, the president- elect, after he received the intelligence briefing, he came out with a statement -- your viewers, I hope at CNN, I'm sure they have. I commend them to read it again and again because he says something that's very clearly about who has attempted to hack us and they continue to attempt. They did successfully attack -- hacked the DNC and that he, the president-elect, in moving forward, wants to meet with his own security intelligence team and ask them for a plan within the next 90 days of taking office, Anderson, to come up with a plan that will improve cybersecurity enhancements. Because it doesn't seem like it was a priority until after people didn't like the election results.
And the idea that innocent people had their names dragged through the mud last night is very -- should be disconcerting to everyone. These folks who have never been in Prague. People we don't even know. People --
COOPER: Again, we didn't report that.
CONWAY: People who aren't associated with the campaign.
CONWAY: So, you got the party started. A lot of your journalists today feel that way because they were at the press conference and we hear from them.
So, I just want to give you a friendly piece of advice. Many people feel that CNN went first and BuzzFeed went second, and that with the imprimatur of CNN going first and posting this and then making it a huge centerpiece of TV coverage, that then it allows a news outlet to go ahead and publish the rest of this "story", quote/unquote, and it's fake news -- as Donald Trump said last night. And I also agree it's a political witch hunt.
COOPER: So, if CNN reports something and people on Twitter, you know, shady organizations or BuzzFeed or, you know, reputable organizations start then reporting other things, we're not -- you cannot hold CNN responsible for what other people are doing.
[20:30:08] They're responsible for what they do. We stand by our reporting 100 percent. And I guess -- I mean I think we both made our points but I really do appreciate --
CONWAY: I can hold CNN accountable for having the screaming headline that he was briefed on something if he wasn't. That's what it says. It says intelligence chiefs presented Trump with information Russia efforts to compromise him.
COOPER: Right. Well it doesn't say briefed. It says that was presented with information, that there was information in there, in the documents.
CONWAY: In a footnote or sliding it under a gum wrapper?
COOPER: You said brief, that's not what the headline just said. So, I'm just.
CONWAY: Yeah, well the implications and the chirons and the consultants and the people who have been anti-Trump since the beginning and continue to be as he become as president. I mean look Anderson, I think the more important conversation, maybe it's for another time, but let's start it tonight briefly, a more important conversation is we're at very important inflection point about journalism. What are the standards here? Are we -- how are we going to cover the new president of the United States? Because I took a little peek at what the headlines about President-elect Obama were eight years ago. Whew, talk about the world's biggest disconnect.
It was basically how he rue (ph) with excellent, should President- elect Obama go to Oslo now and pick up his Nobel peace prize or should he wait until after he's sworn in? We get nothing like that, we got no forbearance, we got nothing, we got no respect. We --
COOPER: We actually covered Donald Trump --
CONWAY: -- this man is president of the United States.
COOPER: -- allegations against Donald Trump -- again President Obama quite frequently and interviewed actually Donald Trump about his allegations completely unproven and fake against President Obama.
CONWAY: I don't know what that has to do with this. I'm just merely saying --
COOPER: Well you're talking about old headlines of President Obama. We ran with that story a lot.
CONWAY: At this time before he was president-elect it was basically what will they wear to the inauguration and how historic -- in other words, what with will his inaugural address be? Why don't we have that conversation, I'm happy to talk about that but we can't when CNN and BuzzFeed and others are trying to release information sequentially on the same night and then August spit up, and get salute together, you know that. I was on several shows this morning. Our incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus was. We had a press conference today with the president-elect.
CONWAY: And it all again --
COOPER: I understand other people loop things together. But we are not --
COOPER: We are not discussing the details of what BuzzFeed dumped onto the internet. That's not -- you haven't heard that on --
CONWAY: Well people on CNN did today --
COOPER: Well -- CONWAY: -- and I guarantee they will tonight probably on the show
that runs after yours.
COOPER: We have been very conscientious in not discussing the details, the completely unsubstantiated and, you know, increasingly false apparently details of what was being reported by BuzzFeed or what was not only being reported, just dumped onto the internet by BuzzFeed and we're not going to do it tonight, certainly not on my program. But we went --
CONWAY: And it's all fake news. And let me just say Anderson, I really think --
COOPER: But it's not all fake news. I mean that's just disingenuous.
CONWAY: Well in that report it is fake news. And people keep using the word dossier like some -- like using some fancy French word is going to imbue with credibility. It's an internet report, it's not an intelligence report. It's a collection of stuff that came from political operatives.
COOPER: Yes, I agree.
CONWAY: Who want to be a different candidate to win.
COOPER: We agree on this.
CONWAY: But Anderson look, you know, if a business doesn't do well some year, they usually clean house, they usually get rid of the people who embarrass them, who didn't meet their projection goals, who said things that just weren't true and made no sense. And I just don't see that at CNN and other places. I mean how are we going to move forward and have a great relationship with major news organizations if everything just sound and looks the scenes the same? The chirons, the pundits.
COOPER: But to be honest, my job is not to have a great relationship with you. My job -- I mean I like you personally and my job, and I respect you and I respect anybody who is in the public arena and putting themselves out there and is a public servant as you all are. And I respect the president-elect enormously for all he's done and all I hope he's going to do. But the job of the press is not to be buddy buddies and hang out socially.
CONWAY: How about be fair?
COOPER: I agree. Will be fair and be accurate.
CONWAY: Well that's -- that certainly has been the case for President Obama --
COOPER: I've never been to White House --
CONWAY: I know -- COOPER: -- to hang out socially --
CONWAY: -- but you got a lot of folks have. A lot of folks have meet the genocide.
COOPER: Listen, I agree. Look, I don't go to the White House Correspondents Dinner. I went once. I'm like I never going again, I don't want to hang out socially with these people. That's not my job. But, look, this is a larger conversation, I'm happy to have it to you, because I do --
CONWAY: Well, it is and Anderson, just briefly, you know, that's right, but Mike Pence put it best today, our vice president-elect, he said introducing our President-elect Donald Trump, he said, that we all support a fair and free press. But with freedom comes responsibility. And he's absolutely right. And I think people should not do this rush to judgment, had conclusions in search of evidence.
COOPER: Right, we agree with that.
CONWAY: That really confuse the viewers and the readers.
COOPER: I totally agree with that. On the same page. And Kellyanne Conway, as always, appreciate your time.
CONWAY: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:35:08] COOPER: Well throughout the interview you heard Kellyanne Conway repeatedly claimed that CNN link to the BuzzFeed story that the Trump team and many others are taking exception with their BuzzFeed story, which we have not reported the details on. You also heard me say repeatedly that is simply not true. About 20 minutes after that interview before we went on air, she, Kellyanne Conway, tweeted this screenshot of our reporting and what she claims again claims is a link to BuzzFeed in that article.
Now just as a matter of the fact, as facts do actually matter, it is not a link to BuzzFeed. It links to a story by CNN's Dylan Byers about the controversy and his piece which I've read, does not link to BuzzFeed nor does it lay out the unverified, unsubstantiated allegations that the Trump people rightly are objecting to. It mentions Trump attorney Michael Cohen, that's only because Michael Cohen publicly denied what BuzzFeed -- his mention in the BuzzFeed -- I don't even want to call it reporting, the document dump. There is no link to BuzzFeed, full stop, hasn't been on CNN.
The panel joins us now. CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, CNN political analyst and legendary journalist Carl Bernstein. Frank Sesno, former CNN colleague, he's now director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. Also CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd, and CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins us, sort the CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, who along with Carl Bernstein is on the team covering the Russian story.
Jim Sciutto let's start with you, you just heard Kellyanne Conway question your reporting and the others, your story says the accuracy of your story. But she went on definitively say it was wrong. Your response.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen Anderson, I've listened to her, I listened to Donald Trump today, I listen to a number of Trump surrogates question our story. But I'm still not clear on what facts they are questioning. The three essential facts of our story were, one, that this material was included in the briefing to the president-elect and the President Obama. Her answer in your interview there, well she really didn't deny that. She said they couldn't talk about it. The other two essential facts of our story is that the FBI's investigating, they haven't substantiated these claims, but they consider them serious enough that they are investigating them. No mention of that today, no answer to that from Kellyanne Conway or from others. The third being, both Democratic and Republican senators consider these allegations and again, we call them allegations from the beginning. Serious enough to merit investigation, a probe. Among them Senator John McCain, who passed on a copy to the FBI directly.
These are people who don't waste time. I know the intelligence community does not waste the time of the president-elect unless they consider that information if not substantiated at least germane to the conversation. I also want to make this clear, we spoke to numerous, as you noted, thank you, Anderson multiple times in that interview, numerous, more than a dozen of the highest ranking officials here. Again, who have no incentive to make things up.
And nor do we. I've got three kids. Right, you know, I do this job because I take it seriously and work with the team on this who takes the job seriously, Jake Tapper, Evan Perez, Carl Bernstein there with you who take their jobs very seriously as do many of the other people at CNN who contributed to this reporting -- to this reporting.
So, again, what facts in this story are they contesting? That still not clear to me. There's a lot of misdirection, there's talk about the problem of using unnamed sources. But as we noted in that story, the reason these high ranking officials did not -- were not quoted by name is because of the classified nature of the information involved which happens in many stories in the news and has for many years. It's a fact of life with the way government officials talk about this kind of information.
So that's all I can say. I can say as well that we have complete confidence in our sources and continue to have confidence in the story as we reported it.
COOPER: And Carl and I should point out, because your involved in this reporting, CNN is not reporting what's in the BuzzFeed all those -- all the things that they talk about. We have not been discussing this.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not in the least. And let's talk about what reporting is. It's the best obtainable version of the truth. That's what that story is. The best obtainable version of the truth is that the chief intelligence officials of the United States of America saw this material, thought that it deserved investigation, thought it ought to be brought to the attention of the president of the United States and to the president-elect. That is the best obtainable version of the truth.
And another thing about anonymous sources, one of the great anonymous sources of our era is Kellyanne Conway. She does it every day. She's got an anonymous source for the last 10 months particularly during this campaign when it suits her. And it's time to talk about what we do as journalists and what propaganda ministers do and that is what she is, is a propaganda minister. And what we've seen here tonight is a deconstruction of the journalistic process. And we did our work and you can deconstruct it and it comes down to, look, the chief officials of the United States intelligence community believed they had something urgent enough to bring to the attention of the president and the president-elect of the United States. That is a story.
[20:40:16] COOPER: Kirsten, I mean I -- is it politics that they are conflating all this reporting, you know, in the press conference today that sort of lumping everybody together?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think it was what we just watched was extremely dishonest. It was dissembling and I think also dangerous. Because she was -- in my opinion I've known Kellyanne for a long time. We're not best friends or anything but I've known her professionally, she's smart, she knows what she's doing, she knows there's a difference between BuzzFeed and CNN. I know that she knows that.
And the fact that she kept conflating them intentionally. And then what I found particularly dangerous, this is a person who will be senior adviser to the president of the United States in about five minutes who is now claiming that reporters should be fired for writing a story that was critical of her boss even though she was unable to name a single thing that was wrong with that story. Every time she came back about you, it was about BuzzFeed, it had nothing to do with CNN's reporting. And this is not the government's job to be telling news organizations who they should be hiring and firing. And by the way if she doesn't like CNN's polling, it's not any different than the polling she was doing for Donald Trump because Donald Trump didn't think he was going to win.
COOPER: Right, Jim Acosta you were at the press conference today. Donald Trump did not allow you to ask a question. It got quite contentious. What was it like there today? What do you make of what you've heard today?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't think we have a case of fake news, Anderson. I think we have a case of fake outrage. Donald Trump and his officials came into that, came into that room today with the intent to go in guns blazing, to come after CNN, to come after BuzzFeed, to come after any news media that got in their way. And here's the problem for Donald Trump and this incoming administration -- we are not going to go away. We are not going to stop doing what we do.
And if Donald Trump is going to insult and go after this news organization repeated repeatedly, we are going to try to ask a question, and that's what I felt was appropriate in this case. He attacked our organization time and again and he was trying to stand there and not give us the chance to ask a simple question. And to me, Anderson, that's just doing our job. And I've covered four presidential campaigns, I covered President Obama. I once asked President Obama why can't we take out the bastards?
I can tell you inside that White House, they were mighty pissed about that. They didn't like that kind of language being directed at their president. But guess what, that's what we do. This is our job and if people don't like it, well there's the button on your remote control. You can change the channel. But CNN is not going to stop doing what we do. What we do is hold people accountable and that's what we're trying to do today, and so my colleagues have been trying to do with their reporting.
COOPER: Phil, what do you make about this debate briefing -- I mean this information, if something is not presented in a briefing, which is what Kellyanne Conway seems to be insinuating, why couldn't one talk about -- I mean I assume UFOs weren't talked about in that briefing. If I asked Kelly Conway -- Kellyanne Conway, were you oppose talking about, she could say no UFOs were not talk about. Is it or not talk about that's not classified information, right?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Two points here Anderson. First, if I were them I wouldn't talk about it either. It's not because, it's not whether it's classified or not. It's the president has a right to talk to his advisers whether it's classified or unclassified. That said, let's be clear the document is not classified. A private enterprise acquired information stamped sensitive on it. That is not information acquired by the U.S. government that then becomes top secret. So an excuse, if you do want to talk about it, that says we can't talk because it's classified, my answer is who classified it? U.S. government sure didn't.
COOPER: Frank Senso, what do you make of this? What you're seeing?
FRANK SESNO, DIRECTOR GWU SCHOOL OF MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Well, first thing I hick is that the Trump administration, the incoming Trump administration has declared war on the media along with all the other institutions it's declared war on. It's elevating the story past where it needs to be. It's a very straightforward story. As Carl said, it is a legitimate story. Intelligence chiefs concerned about allegations and stuff that's out there, includes that in a briefing to the president-elect and others.
COOPER: Whether verbal or not.
SESNO: Whether it was talked about or not, and you did your job, which was to find that out. And then a decision was made. And this is what happens with big stories. It's important the public understand this. With big stories, news executives and reporters and others sit around and say does this hit the threshold where the public has a right and deserves and should know this?
And the answer is with somebody who's coming into office if intelligence chiefs are concerned about this at this level, the answer is yes, so it was reported. So the Trump folks go after CNN and elevate this and turn this into a personal shoot the messenger kind of battle which elevates the story, creates conflict, and is really about what the Trump administration, incoming Trump administration is trying to do I think is inoculate themselves against all the bad press that just goes with the territory.
COOPER: Yes Gloria.
SESNO: It just goes with the territory.
[20:45:03] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, there's another thing going on here. Because it's one thing to attack the media, which the incoming Trump administration is doing, and we get it from lots of administrations. So I mean there's -- there should not be cozy relationships between the press and the White House they cover. That's our job. But the other thing that's going on that we heard at the presser today that's disturbing is attacking the intelligence community.
And that is, you know, I think that's a real problem, because you have an incoming president of the United States who is attacking public serVants as partisans who work in the intelligence community. Now, maybe he's going to feel a lot better when he has his own people running all of those agencies. And, you know, he's entitled to have his own people and that's fine. And presidents are allowed to push back and in fact should push back on intelligence. That's their job because we know it's not fallible. We know only too well after WMD, we know that it is, you know, it is completely they can be wrong.
But when you have an incoming president daily going out and talking about the nonsense he's getting from the intelligence community or complaining about leaks that he says are coming from intelligence officials, we don't know where these leaks are coming from, nobody has told, you know -- nobody has stated who their sources are here, then I think the American public has to step back and say, wait a minute, we want the president and the intelligence community to work together because our national security is at stake here. And it's OK to ask questions but to disparage is a real problem. And I'm hoping that when he gets his own folks in there that he begins to trust the information that he is getting.
COOPER: Phil, I mean you worked for FBI and CIA. What do you make of that?
MUDD: Couple things. First, you can't help but be discouraged. I did 25 years in, you can't shield yourself from this even if we go into a situation where we have a new CIA director, going through a confirmation process now, who changes the relationship. Beyond that, there's one critical professional piece. Forget about what's happened here, Anderson. We're going into an environment where the president- elect is going to hear about whether Russia is complying with a peace process in Syria. Does he want to hear it? Whether Iran is complying with a nuclear accord? Does he want to hear it? Is he going to misportray that information when he leaves the office and put the intelligence community in position of defending themselves? That's what I'd be ask on the inside. What is this mean for four years, what's done is done.
COOPER: How much of this do you think, I mean politics, that politically -- I mean is it about inoculating the incoming administration? Is it about, you know, obviously the press has a low favorability ratings as Kellyanne Conway points out? Is it about just setting up the, you know, them versus us, that they think works in their favor?
POWERS: I think there is an idea that they're going to delegitimize news organizes that are critical of them and that way whenever there's a criticism they can just say, oh here's fake news, which now there's -- that, you know, that Kellyanne said fake news. Donald Trump, you know, claimed today that CNN was fake news today. But of course name no perfectly well that what fake news refers to is people actually literally people making things up, not someone making a mistake. But in this case didn't even have it, nobody made a mistake.
But sometimes journalists do make mistakes. And that's not fake news, fake news is actually intentionally misleading people and that's what they're telling people that journalist are doing.
COOPER: And to Kellyanne's point, if somebody makes a mistake they should acknowledge it and stand up to it and own up to it.
BERNSTEIN: And journalist do make mistakes just like assistants to presidents make mistakes.
SESNO: And there's plenty -- I'm sorry. That there's plenty in what the news media do and the White House press corps do that is ugly and flawed and a problem and should be fixed. It's appropriate for a president or his aides to push back against that as Gloria said.
COOPER: We have to take a break. I want to thank everybody. Quick reminder, Frank Sesno, the author of the new book "Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors Uncover Solutions and Spark Change", I've read the book, I'm actually in the book, I'm interviewed in the book, congratulations on the book.
SESNO: Thank you very much.
SESNO: We're doing that right, I think more.
SESNO: The things that's what we're talking about.
COOPER: Yeah, congratulations on that.
SESNO: Thank you. COOPER: Coming up at the top of the hour, Van Jones hosts another town hall, is called "The Messy Truth". Just ahead on "360" though, his report from Detroit Van's report, we're talking to African- American voters about why Democrats lost Michigan this year.
[20:53:00] COOPER: Coming up at the top of the hour, CNN political commentator Van Jones hosts "The Messy Truth." A town hall folks and President Obama's legacy and Donald Trump's upcoming inauguration, first, a report from the field. Now in the weeks since the election, Van has been talking to voters in a number of crucial states, including Michigan, a Democratic stronghold obviously that this year turned red, but not by much. Detroit was assume to be the heart of Democrats, so called blue wall, more than 80 percent of the residents are African-American. That's the highest percentage for big city in the United States.
Obama won Detroit and Michigan easily in 2008 and again in 2012. So the question for Democrats is what happened this year? Here's what voters told Van.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. CHARLES WILLIAMS, HISTORIC KING SOLOMON BAPTIST CHURCH: How you doing? I'm good, I'm good.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Reverend Charles thinks he has some answers as to why the Democrats lost Michigan. He's going to give me a tour of his town to help me understand what motivates black voters here, and what that means for both parties.
Given everything Obama did for Michigan. Given everything Obama did for black folk, why didn't Detroit come out as strong for Hillary Clinton?
WILLIAMS: I think there's a disconnect between what a White House can do on the ground and what we feel connected to. That connection didn't happen. What they didn't do is they didn't build an organization to actually talk to people.
V. JONES: But the reality is that the Clinton campaign spent a lot of money on data, and they had big data that showed they were going to have a big victory on election night.
WILLIAMS: I would say to that, data don't vote. I mean, I'm serious, man. If you don't build an organization that is based on relationship, understanding the issues, then you can model and data and statistically your way through a losing campaign, and that's exactly what happened with the Clinton campaign.
[20:55:02] V. JONES: I think a lot of folk in the Democratic Party thought Michigan is in the bag. You know, we have this blue wall.
WILLIAMS: I tell people all the time. As a matter of fact I told Hillary Clinton to her face when we met, I said, look, I'm -- I appreciate it. It's good to meet you, but I've never voted for a Clinton before. I know Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton about as well as I know George Clinton.
V. JONES: But people back in the '70s and '80s.
WILLIAMS: I got to turn to the oldies station to get to you. I mean, that's the reality. They had the infrastructure of a lot of old relationships.
V. JONES: Where was the energy in the Democratic Party this time around?
WILLIAMS: The energy was with Bernie Sanders. The fire was put out by the DNC. That energy was kind of cut off at the knees. There's an ethos that was being built behind the Bernie Sanders campaign that felt infectious enough to actually touch people on these streets. And some people, they thought in their infinite wisdom, that we can just kind of shift that over to the Clinton campaign, and it didn't happen.
V. JONES: My next stop is here at Whitlows. Barbershops helped formed the bedrock of political discourse in the community. Vonzie Whitlow has been here since Barack Obama was born. Leslie Curtis is a life-long Republican who voted for Obama in 2008, but this election, he voted for Donald Trump. And Jewell Jones is a Democrat, 21 years old and just elected as the youngest Michigan State Representative in history.
I'm looking at you, but over your head is a picture of Barack Obama. And it says "this is our moment." Was the past eight years the moment that you expected it to be when you put that seen sign up?
VONZIE WHITLOW, MICHIGANM CLINTON VOTER: I was so happy and glad to see a black man run for president of the United States of America. I think he's united a lot of people across the country.
V. JONES: In 2008, you voted for Obama. But you didn't vote for him in 2012.
LESLIE CURTIS, MICHIGAN TRUMP VOTER: Correct.
V. JONES: What did Obama do to disappoint you in the first term that you didn't vote for him again?
CURTIS: Well, the disappointment came when he didn't address black America. To me his agenda was focus was directly on the LGBT community and immigration and Obamacare. Whenever you're the first black anything you have to put it out there on the line, and I don't feel that Obama did that. I don't think he put it out there on the line.
V. JONES: I look at you, you know, you're the youngest-elected state representative in the state, maybe in the country, maybe in the universe. We don't know. Obama ran into a lot of hostile fire. I mean, you're young, and you're hopeful. And I remember when Obama was young and hopeful. Do you think that some of the resistance against Obama had to do with the color of his skin? JEWELL JONES, (D) MICHIGAN STATE HOUSE: Black people have been doing so much for so long with so little. You know, we can do almost anything we're not. So, after a while like you learn how to play the game, and how to navigate. So of course the color of skin was an issue.
V. JONES: When you think about the Trump presidency, how do you think that's going to impact you?
J. JONES: I think the election was actually refreshing, because I think especially like the Democratic Party, I think we needed something to wake us up.
Cause, for a long time, engagement's really been declining over the years. I think this is something that could really open people's eyes and tell them, like, it's time to get involved. I'm excited about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's really fascinating perspectives, Van Jones joins me now. What struck you most about your time in Detroit?
V. JONES: Well, I think first of all, that pastor that was driving me around. He said that he didn't even know who was running Michigan for Hillary Clinton. He said he could call the guy from 2008 on his cell phone right now who ran Michigan for Obama, but he was never really invited to be a part. I thought that was a shocking thing, that this guy who has so much love in the community wasn't really included, because again, the data said that Michigan wasn't even a factor. That was amazing.
The other thing that was amazing was that, you know, you'd expect the young people to be so distressed and so distraught about a Trump, but, you know, the young, couple young folks I talked to said hey, great, you know, bring it on. You know, Trump is going to get people more excited and more engaged. It's just so different when you talk to real people than when you try to make sense of what the pollsters are saying.
COOPER: I love the pastor also saying data don't vote. That should be --
V. JONES: Data don't vote.
COOPER: Right, that should be on every TV pundits, you know, teacher moving forward.
V. JONES: Exactly. And listen think about how brilliant. You know, we talked for 3,000 hours, trying to figure out what happened. And he get it is in three words. Data don't vote. There it is.
COOPER: I love it. Van thanks very much, have a great program.
[21:00:01] "THE MESSY TRUTH" starts now.