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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sources: Congress Investigating Another Possible Sessions- Kislyak Meeting; Source: Comey to Say Trump Pressured him on Probe. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 31, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening.
Fired FBI Director James Comey is now just days away from saying publicly that the president of the United States tried to pressure him to drop part of the Russia probe and that's not even the lead story tonight. We just learned about yet another possible contact that's being investigated between a top Trump associate and Russia's ambassador. If it's true, it's yet another instance of which contact went unclosed.
Jim Sciutto, Gloria Borger and Shimon Prokupecz broke the story. Jim Sciutto joins us now.
So, what are you learning, what do we know and don't know on this?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Republican and Democratic Hill sources and intelligence officials briefed on the investigation tell myself and my colleagues, Jamie Gangel, and Shimon Prokupecz that congressional investigators are examining whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an additional private meeting with Russia's ambassador during the presidential campaign.
Investigators on the Hill are requesting additional information, including schedules from Sessions. A source with knowledge tells CNN they're focusing on whether such a meeting took place on April 27th, 2016, this at the Mayflower Hotel here in Washington where then candidate Donald Trump was delivering his first major foreign policy address.
Prior to the speech, then-Senator Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak attended a small VIP reception with organizers, diplomats and some others as well. In addition to congressional investigators, the FBI is seeking to determine the extent of interactions that the Trump campaign team may have had with Russia's ambassador during that event. This is part of its broader counterintelligence investigation of Russian interference in the election.
Now, I should add, neither Hill nor FBI investigators have yet concluded whether a private meeting took place and they acknowledge it is possible any additional meeting was incidental, Anderson. COOPER: So, has Attorney General Sessions said anything about this?
SCIUTTO: Well, we reached out to the Department of Justice and a short time ago we got the following at the same time statement. I will read it word for word.
It says, quote: The Department of Justice appointed special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter. We will allow him to do his job. It is unfortunate that anonymous sources whose credibility will never face public scrutiny are continuously trying to hinder that process by peddling false stories to the mainstream media.
The facts haven't changed. The then-senator did not have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel.
Anderson, that's their response to us.
COOPER: So, I mean, if it's true -- and, again, we don't know. They say it is being investigated based on multiple sources. This would not be the first time Sessions did not disclose a meeting with the Russian ambassador. In the past, he said he did it as a senator, which is why he didn't initially disclose it, right?
SCIUTTO: That's exactly right.
During his confirmation hearing, remember, on January 10th, Sessions testified that he, quote, did not have any communications with the Russians, end quote, during the campaign. He said the same in a written statement submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee. When reports emerged in March he had two meetings with Ambassador Kislyak during the campaign, one at the Republican National Convention in July and one at the Senate office in September, Sessions then conceded that the meetings happened but insisted they were part of his Senate duties and had nothing to do with the campaign.
Nonetheless, Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. After that revelation, Sessions was asked at a news conference on March 2nd whether there were any other meetings with Russians besides those two, and here was his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Have you met with any other Russian officials or folks connected with the Russian government since you endorsed Donald Trump?
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't believe so. We meet a lot of people, so --
REPORTER: From those two meetings you discussed with the ambassador --
SESSIONS: I don't believe so.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: Now, later that week, when Sessions updated his sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he acknowledged the two meetings with Kislyak, but did not mention any encounter at the Mayflower Hotel -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jim Sciutto, appreciate the update tonight.
To other breaking news, the fired FBI Director James Comey will indeed testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. We know approximately when and most vitally we know what he's expected to say or the general area of what he is going to say promises to be very big.
CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us now with details on that, and another story breaking tonight having to do with subpoenas.
So, Jessica, the House Intelligence Committee issued several subpoenas today. Let's start with that. Who were they to?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, several subpoena today, Anderson. Seven in total, four of them related to the Russia probe. Those were issued to President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Also, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and both of their business entities. Those were for documents both men have been reluctant to turn over.
And then there were three other subpoenas that were issued seeking information on unmasking. That's the unveiling of identities of Americans and an intelligence report. This all relates to the unmasking request made by Obama officials, including former CIA Director John Brennan, former national security adviser Susan Rice and former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power.
[20:05:08] So, all of these subpoenas issued today as Congress continues to ramp up all of their investigations -- Anderson.
COOPER: The subpoenas on the unmasking, I understand the House Intelligence aide suspects that came directly from Chairman Devin Nunes, but Nunes recused himself from the investigation for now.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, right. And this has been stirring a lot of contention and controversy within the committee. So, the fact that Devin Nunes still has subpoena power despite removing himself from the Russia investigation, that's drawing some concern. Chairman Nunes can, in fact, still unilaterally issue subpoenas.
And one senior House intelligence aide tells us that that unmasking request, those three subpoenas, that likely came from Chairman Nunes himself without any consultation with the Democrats.
In fact, this was discussed a few days ago. Ranking member Adam Schiff talked about it and said he wanted a committee vote on all subpoenas that were issued. You know what, Anderson? In this case, it looks like it didn't happen and it is likely Chairman Nunes issued these three unilaterally. COOPER: And former Director Comey expected to testify before the
Senate Intel Committee next week. What exactly are we expecting to hear?
SCHNEIDER: So, the details, they still are being worked out. But sources, they do say that FBI Director Comey, fired FBI Director Comey, he will once again go before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and this time, we're expecting he will publicly recount his run ins with the president.
The most intriguing details that could come if Comey recounts the February 14th meeting with the president where he alleged asked him to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn and Flynn's ties to Russia. Sources tell us, of course, that Comey wrote this all down and we do know Comey has telephoned with special counsel Robert Mueller to work out the parameters of what he can say, and Comey will likely sit down with Mueller for a formal interview afterwards. So, it does look like that possibility will be that the testimony will come from James Comey sometime next week. So, a lot to watch, Anderson.
COOPER: So, Jessica, just to be clear, he's going to work out the parameters with Mueller. That means he's not going to be talking about anything he learned as FBI director about the actual investigation. He would limit his comments to his thoughts about what the president -- what he believes the president was trying to convince him to do?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, that's right. We expect that he'll stay away from the nitty-gritty details about the Russia probe and what the FBI is investigating now. We anticipate, and our sources tell us, that James Comey will talk about those interactions with the president, the possible pressure he felt from the president. We know at that meeting back in January, the president asked for that personal loyalty
So, those are all we're expecting to hear from James Comey when he testifies.
COOPER: Just one more question. You know, there was a lot of reporting that he had taken contemporaneous notes at the time and maybe had written a memo some people had seen and sources had talked about.
Do we know if he would actually read from those notes or be allowed to?
SCHNEIDER: That all remains to be seen. That's been the big question here, as to whether or not people have actually seen these memos, if James Comey has them in his own possession, if they're with the FBI. It's unclear if James Comey will actually take out these memos that he supposedly wrote and read from them. It is probably likely to say he may do it from recollection, but it remains to be seen. We'll see next week.
COOPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, appreciate the update. Thank you. I want to bring in the panel. Matt Lewis, "Wall Street Journal's" Eli
Stokols, Jennifer Granholm, Jason Miller, conservative legal scholar Jay Sekulow, Laura Coates, and Phil Mudd.
Eli, since I mangled your last name, even though I asked you twice before we went on air, let's start with you. How big a deal is this? I mean, if -- on Senator Sessions, if in fact there was a meeting, and again we don't know. There's the story that it's being investigated, at the Mayflower Hotel that wasn't disclosed. If there was another -- if there was that meeting that hadn't previously disclosed, along with the other meetings, how big a deal is it?
ELI STOKOLS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, it's another drip. Part of a drip, drip, drip of revelations that came out after the fact of administration and transition officials who didn't disclose meetings they had with the Russian ambassador with other people with ties to the Russian government.
The reason that's a problem, obviously, the ongoing investigations -- multiple investigations into possible collusion with Russia going back to the campaign, and then the other investigation that's going on possibly related to an obstruction of justice charge. Now, we don't know which way that's going to go. There's still a lot of details that need to come out. But publicly, it just doesn't look like an administration that's been transparent in disclosing all of these contacts.
Yes, they may have had lots of meetings. It may have been one of the things that slipped. But given where we're at in terms of the investigation I think, you know, it could lead to just more questions and more pressure on the administration and on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This is happening when he's involved in the search for a new FBI director.
COOPER: Jason, I want to bring you in here. Obviously, again, we don't know if this meeting took place, the reporting is it's now being investigated.
If it did take place, it would seem to undercut Sessions' explanation, well, I didn't mention those other two meetings because it was in my role, in my capacity as a senator, that I met with the Russian ambassador.
[20:10:05] JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, if it's a day ending in Y, then, of course, we have another leak that's coming out from this entire investigation or people looking at this. But we just don't know enough at this time.
And what we don't know is to say a big event that was broadly attended where potentially hundreds of people were in the room? That's -- we don't have any of these details yet. Obviously, news like this is a distraction. I think that's the reason why it was put out there, especially as President Trump has come back from his very successful trip last week overseas, and you can't help but notice the political motivations that are probably behind this.
COOPER: Governor, is that what it is?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I mean who -- you know, I don't know who the sources are but, as Eli said, I mean, these are serious bricks in a wall or maybe if we turn the metaphor around. I am certain that the president feels like the noose is tightening a bit. Every single day there is another story.
It makes people out there wonder, what was it they were trying to hide with the Russians? What was going on underneath all of this cover up that caused people to freak out so much and fail to disclose all of these meetings? Why -- I mean why did Paul Manafort change the RNC platform?
It starts way back there. I have a list of 18 different bricks in this wall that are really going to come down.
Now, this goes back to why don't we have an independent investigation? Now, the Senate is doing a good job so far, but an independent investigation would really bring --
MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: I'm going to say that that -- the biggest development potentially in this whole case could be that Jeff Sessions already recused himself. His deputy appoints Mueller. That may end up being a definitive turning point if things go downhill for Donald Trump because, remember, Donald Trump did not want Sessions to recuse himself. He wanted him to stick it out. Once he did that, that opened the door for special prosecutor.
COOPER: Let me bring -- Jay, I mean, the prospect of former Director Comey sitting there in open session of the Intelligence Committee describing conversations he had with the president about the Russia investigation and any sort of pressure or what he believed was pressure from the president, do you believe the White House should be nervous? Do you think it is appropriate Comey would talk about conversations he had with the president of the United States?
JAY SEKULOW, CHIEF COUNSEL, THE AMERICAN CNETER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE: The White House isn't nervous. The president doesn't feel like -- I was with the president today. He doesn't feel he has a noose around his neck. I think that's absurd.
And about your 18 bricks in the wall, you started the whole discussion, Anderson, with due respect, with the proposition: if a conversation took place by Jeff Sessions. And we based six minutes of air time on a supposition that may or may not have happened.
And then, James Comey comes up with a memo after the fact though he testifies in March and says what? He's asked about question about political pressure to stop investigations. He said, that would be extraordinary, I never experienced it.
And then, all of a sudden, he has a memo after he has meetings with the president. By the way, that memo --
COOPER: Do you think he's lying?
SEKULOW: Well, hold it. Hold it. I don't think he's a credible witness. I mean, he had to correct his testimony three times to the United States Congress because of misstatements, one of which, Anderson, if we're all being honest here, one of which was dramatic. He said there were tens of thousands of e-mails the FBI had to review between Huma Abedin's e-mail and Anthony Weiner's. He made an announcement in the middle of an election and he was criticized as I criticized him for doing it.
But then look what happened. He had to go back and say it wasn't tens of thousands of hours after praising the FBI for working extraordinary hours, and we find out it may have been a dozen. So, this is not exactly what I would call a credible witness. And I don't see any panic on the White House or the president.
I'll tell you what I see, an investigation that everybody wanted to see a special counsel. Now, there is one and now the conflict is between the House, the Senate and the special counsel.
If the former FBI director wants to testify, he's got to be careful what he says also, and he has -- you know, he suffers from a little bit of selective disclosure disease quite frankly.
COOPER: Phil, you worked at the FBI. You know, Jay was just saying he is not a credible witness.
PHIL MUDD, FORMER SNEIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: Look, let's be clear here. We're talking about what the former director of the FBI says publicly. He is not going to talk about the subjects of investigations. Those people include individuals like General Flynn and Paul Manafort.
The FBI has a tremendous hammer in this situation that the Congress doesn't have, that is whether to bring information across the street to the Department of Justice about whether to bring indictments against these individuals.
SEKULOW: Then would you allow your client to testify before the United States house and Senate with what you just said?
MUDD: Hell no.
SEKULOW: That the FBI could bring in a special counsel?
SEKULOW: Would you allow your client to testify?
MUDD: First of all, I'm not lawyer. You can pay me to be one. I would not allow my client to testify.
COOPER: You know, Jay --
SEKULOW: Go ahead.
COOPER: Jay, we just like to let people finish their thoughts because no at home can't actually hear us.
[20:15:02] So, you can respond as soon as Phil is done.
MUDD: Just two quick thoughts. I don't think the former director of the FBI is going to talk about investigations of people around the Trump campaign. I think he is going to talk about what happened many months later, his recollections and his remembrances of what happened with conversations with the president of the United States.
One quick comment, by the way, on Jeff Sessions because the conversation I have heard is not accurate. If you're in government, I didn't report that stuff all the time, Anderson. I look at what they're talking about in terms of Jeff Sessions. There's one question. It's not whether he meet a Russian. It's whether that conversation was substantive. If it was, he should have reported it. If it wasn't, I blew that stuff all the time and when I got my polygraph, I got hammer by the polygrapher and I went back to work. That's it.
COOPER: OK. So, Jay, I want to be able to respond, but as someone who's not a lawyer, I'm asking on the legal standpoint --
COOPER: -- could the White House make the claim it is inappropriate for Director Comey to be discussing things that he and the president talked about privately based on executive privilege?
SEKULOW: Well, I mean, there certainly is executive privilege issue. But let me take it a step further than this.
James Comey is going to testify in public but he wouldn't testify in private to a Senate committee. Why? Why is he doing it in public?
Then, I want to follow it up with this question. Why in the world if we have a Senate investigation, a House investigation and now a special counsel, would the media -- again, due respect, Anderson, here, but why in the world would you make it -- the media generally, make such a big deal when a lawyer suggests that they're not going to comply with a request for the House or Senate while there's a special counsel appointed?
Because if you are a lawyer, you know what you tell your client? No, we will -- we will assist, we will look at a subpoena and respond. But this idea of dueling investigations never works out well for the individuals involved.
It's never the substance of a crime, right? It is always what happens after the fact. So, what I think here is James Comey has to be very careful. If he is going to start disclosing conversations, by the way, his version of a consideration with the president of the United States when he under oath said he never felt political pressure to stop an investigation. So, next week he says there is, that's a serious problem for James
COOPER: Laura, what about that? Jay raises a good point. If he testified one thing once and then he says something different this time around?
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, first of all, the Fifth Amendment is not carte blanche to just evade the legal requirements you have to comply with subpoenas. It has to be applicable in order to exercise or assert the Fifth Amendment. It doesn't always apply to documents. It doesn't always apply when it has anything to do with things that may incriminate you.
So, to say it's carte blanche would be erroneous. What it does suggest --
SEKULOW: Who said it was carte blanche?
COATES: I'm going to finish my point first and then I'll get back to you, sir.
The point I'm making here is the idea that the Fifth Amendment would somehow immunize you from being able to testify in general is accurate. A good lawyer would, of course, advise their client not to testify --
COATES: -- without adequate protections, that only makes sense.
However, here you have the former FBI director who has been asked to testify about quite discrete points. And to that, he may not have certain protections or be able to say, look, I'm not going to give you any information. There are constraints that are put in place by the special counsel and that are appropriate.
But simply because there are parallel investigations going on, one being criminal and one being congressional with two very different objectives does not give people the automatic right to say, I'm going to just say nothing. Remember --
SEKULOW: Whoa, whoa, whoa.
COATES: -- the goal of the congressional investigation is to be able to figure out what laws or legislation can be put in place to try to correct an issue that may have been. The criminal investigation is very different. It may or may not lead to criminal charges, but I refuse to just look at the credibility of a witness in a vacuum.
COATES: It has to relate --
COOPER: Hold on. We got to take a quick break.
We're going to continue this conversation. We're also going to focus more on the advisability or not of Director Comey's upcoming testimony after a quick break.
And later, somewhere snoop dog is saying, why didn't I think of that? Yes, we will talk about covfefe later.
[20:22:41] COOPER: Well, before the break, we were talking about breaking news tonight.
Fired FBI Director James Comey's upcoming testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the legal ins and outs as well as questions about Director Comey's credibility as a witness.
Back with the panel.
Jay, I want to let you respond to what was said before the break about Director Comey's testimony.
SEKULOW: Well, look, I think he's got to be very careful. He's under oath, he stated that that there was no political, his experience with the FBI has never had political pressure put on to stop an investigation. What's he going to say? The president then did it? So, then, you have to go, what, correct his testimony again?
So, you know, I think James Comey is in a unique and difficult position. And the fact is this was a mistake of his own creation. He's the one that intervened three times in a presidential election. He's the one that's had to correct his testimony three times. He's the one that lacks the credibility of the evidence.
I want to say something here just for the record, Anderson. These metaphors about nooses and necks, it's not the right thing. It is the president of the United States we're talking about.
You may fundamentally disagree with him, that -- you have the right to do that. You live in the United States of America.
But let's be realistic, OK? The president is not sweating over this issue, nor should he. What's the real issue for the American people? Was there Russian collusion?
And I will ask this question. What exactly is collusion? What does that even mean legally? That's the fundamental question that Alan Dershowitz has been asking. I think Professor Dershowitz is correct.
COOPER: Governor Granholm?
GRANHOLM: First of all, I don't know. I mean, he seems -- I don't know the president, but he seems to be sweating.
SEKULOW: I was there today. He wasn't.
GRANHOLM: OK. Well, why is he tweeting out disparaging comments about John Brennan, for example.
SEKULOW: John Brennan who said there was no evidence of collusion?
GRANHOLM: OK, you see, this whole strategy you have of disparaging these witnesses who have spent their life serving the United States and are all about honor and integrity --
SEKULOW: Governor, which witness said -- which witness said there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians? Which witness that you mentioned with tremendous credibility, which one said it?
GRANHOLM: Listen, I am just saying that you cannot -- before people start testifying like Jim Comey --
SEKULOW: They've been testifying.
GRANHOLM: Your strategy, the strategy it seems on your side is to discredit these men. Let's let the investigation play itself out. I don't think as a human matter discrediting these two guys publicly is a good strategy on your part.
SEKULOW: Well, I don't know. I don't know --
COOPER: OK, hold on. Let's let some of the others.
Eli, from a reporter's standpoint in terms of what Comey has to testify, he is going to have to be very careful.
[20:25:04] I mean, to Jay's point, there is ongoing investigation by a special counsel. He's close to Mueller. He's going to be talking with Mueller. Clearly, he's going to be clearing in advance with Mueller what he's going to say I would assume.
STOKOLS: Our reporting is he and Mueller had the conversations and determined that the focus of this will be on the meeting that he had with Trump after Trump became president about, you know, the conversation reportedly where Trump reportedly said, it would be nice if you could let the Flynn thing go? Now, that's sort of already out the public record. It is out there largely because of leaks that seem to have come from, if not Comey, someone very close to Comey.
And so, Jay does make a good point that the former FBI director by sort of getting out over his skis on a couple of things, by entering the political fray and being so conscious of his public appearance and the impact of what he said for an FBI director will strike a lot of people as sort of a partisan figure.
Now, Robert Mueller doesn't have that problem but James Comey does, and the White House has it too when they try to sort of discredit everybody. They protest too much about this person or that person coming out there, and the president looks like he has something to hide, too. So, I think less is more.
COOPER: Matt, it is interesting, though. The president, who had said James Comey is a grandstander, you can make the argument, some will make the argument that to Jay's point that the FBI director going yet again, demanding there be an open hearing, not a closed hearing, it does to those critics of James Comey, it plays into what the president said, that he wants the public attention.
LEWIS: Right. Look, I think that James Comey is an honorable guy. As everyone knows, he -- you know, he went to the bedside of John Ashcroft to prevent what I think would have been a horrible situation during the Bush administration.
He is somebody who I think prides himself on being a Boy Scout, and it is interesting that actually that could be a fault of his, that he wants to be seen as a very honorable, decent person, and ironically, I think finally it has gotten him in trouble. It does seem a little bit like he's a showboat.
I do think he is an honorable person though. I think Jay Sekulow came here tonight with a mission, to begin discrediting James Comey. I think this is a harbinger of things to come.
SEKULOW: Let me respond to that.
LEWIS: I guess it is the strategy.
SEKULOW: Matt, do you think it is okay that James Comey is having discussions with the special counsel as to what his testimony is going to be? You think that's OK? You think that's a good thing, that a witness -- because that's what he is now -- a witness is going to discuss with the special counsel what his testimony is going to be? You think that's OK?
LEWIS: Here is what I think is good --
SEKULOW: No, Matt, do you think it is okay?
LEWIS: Are you cross-examining me, am I under oath?
LEWIS: You can't handle the truth, Jay Sekulow. You're hosting -- guess what? You're not hosting the show.
SEKULOW: I'm asking do you think it is right for him to be discussing with the special counsel his testimony.
LEWIS: No, you talk too much. You came here tonight. You are a partisan hack. You came here tonight to try to discredit --
SEKULOW: Yes, the partisan hack which argued a dozen cases with the Supreme Court.
LEWIS: You can't shut up. You can't shut up.
COOPER: Matt, finish your thought.
LEWIS: Is it OK with prosecutor Sekulow if I answer Anderson Cooper's questions?
COOPER: All right.
SEKULOW: Asked and answered.
COOPER: Jason, let me ask you. Is there not a piece of you which as a loyal supporter of Donald Trump who wants obviously the president to do well, are you nervous at all about James Comey coming forward and saying whatever he's going to say?
MILLER: No. What I'm looking forward to next week is I want to see Director Comey answer the question of why when this supposed conversation happened with the president, why he didn't go public at that time and tell everybody. As we see-- we saw last year, he stepped forward when he saw things supposedly happening in Clinton world, he felt compelled to step forward and say something.
The other thing, too, I'm looking forward to Director Comey answering is when he testified previously earlier this month and they asked him did anyone at the DOJ ever put any political pressure on you to go and stop this investigation or do something, why didn't he take that opportunity to say, you know what, there was someone else. I think those are fundamental issues that jump out.
And the other thing too, as a matter of fact, for all of the people leaking these details of these meetings out, has Director Comey instructed any of these people to go and say it? You know, associates of James Comey would be a great band name but I'm concerned about how many of these people might have information that aren't -- that's not in the public realm.
COATES: If I may.
COOPER: Briefly, Jay, you mentioned a couple of times you saw the president today. Can I ask in what capacity you are visiting with him?
SEKULOW: I'm trying to get a pastor that's -- an American pastor in Turkey out of jail in Turkey.
SEKULOW: So, that's why I was there with the president. It is a case we've been working on for a long time. In fact, you all were very helpful in the previous case that we had, and I appreciated that, bringing that to -- when we had the situation with the pastor in Iran.
It is a similar kind of situation, except a NATO ally. We are trying to get a pastor out of jail.
COATES: Anderson, if I may -- COOPER: Can I just ask you -- are you -- are you a counselor of the
president in any capacity? Just for --
SEKULOW: No, I mean, when I have conversations with, you know, an administration official, of course, it's covered under executive privilege. But I view my role as a lawyer, whenever I'm talking with anybody, in any situation that I assume that there's attorney-client privilege in this kind of situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- covered under executive privilege. But I view my role as a lawyer whenever I'm talking with anybody in the situation that I assume that there's attorney/client privilege in these kinds of situations.
[20:30:11] But, you know, look, I was there on behalf of client advocating the release of an American citizen, he's 20, his name is Andrew Brunson. He's been in jail for nine months in Turkey. His wife was under investigation. They run a church in (inaudible) in Turkey. They got picked up as part of the coupe sweep. And, you know, Anderson how difficult the situations been there in Turkey for freedom and freedom in speech and freedom religion. And I'm trying to get him out. The president has been very, very helpful. He asked president to release him on multiple occasions, and I think we'll get him out.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: All right. I appreciate.
COOPER: -- all the panels being with us. Thanks very much. Just ahead you say covfefe I say covfefe, I don't know. What does it all mean and we'll look at that ahead.
Also, a lot more news, more breaking news tonight, police had just released dashcam video of Tiger Woods' arrest in DUI charges. We heard he was asleep at the wheel. We play that video for you and more news (inaudible).
COOPER: Little over 20 hours ago Pres. Trump fired off his mysterious tweet, "Despite the constant negative press covfefe," that's it, a fragment, a phrase ending with a word not down in any dictionary. We're guessing the pronunciation. About six hours later it was deleted and Pres. Trump tweeted, "who can figure out the true meaning of covfefe? Enjoy."
By then, covfefe was on its way to trending, sparking jokes, becoming a viral sensation. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about it, it says (inaudible) which he gave off-camera audio only here. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think people should be concerned what the President posted somewhat of an incoherent tweet last night and that it then stayed up for hours?
[20:35:7]SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did it stay up so long? Is no one watching this the?
SPICER: No, I think the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant. Blake?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does covfefe mean?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does it mean?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does the president mean?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is covfefe?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That really happened. Instead of saying it was a simple typo or a mistake, Spicer doubled down.
Here to discuss CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger, and CNN Political Director David Chalian.
David, this tweet from the president, I mean I'm not sure what to say really, what does covfefe mean to you?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it means nothing. It means -- I don't know, maybe the president fell asleep while tweeting last night. I assume he was going to write the word coverage. He was talking about fake news media again and trying to disparage some of the reporting that's out there. But, it clearly also meant something to have fun with because this morning when he woke up and deleted that tweet, he sort of told all his Twitter followers to figure out the meaning and enjoy.
COOPER: Gloria, I mean a lot of people have been enjoying certainly all day on this year. You were reporting yesterday it was interesting though that Pres. Trump based on sources you talked to people who talked to the president say that he's just kind of angry, not trusting people around him, not happy with much of anyone around him. Does this tweet figure into that the?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it kind of does, Anderson. I mean imagine him home alone at the White House, it's a midnight, and he's tweeting about his negative press coverage. And, clearly, he's something that he is obsessing about constantly, and even at midnight, and he is -- and then, I don't know why he ended the tweet with covfefe, but he gave up essentially.
But you can imagine him being alone and mad and feeling as nobody to talk to when he has to do his own press. And so he started but then he stopped in the middle of it.
COOPER: Well, it's interesting, David, the explanation from Sean Spicer the White House had, what, 14 hours to come up with something and the best thing they could come up with is the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant. It's like those who know (inaudible) aren't supposed to talk about (inaudible). Covfefe seems apparently to be the same thing.
CHALIAN: I mean this was just nuts to me. I mean the White House -- by Sean Spicer doing that, it seems to me the White House actually was trying to continue the covfefe conversation and the cable chatter, and the news chatter that they would much rather that be the conversation than the latest on the Russia investigation --
COOPER: By the way, I don't think you need to say covfefe conversation. I think you can just say they keep to continue the covfefe.
CHALIAN: OK. Sorry, I was unfamiliar with the usage of the word.
CHALIAN: But, yes, just continue with the covfefe, I guess. But, yes, Sean Spicer explanation actually was sort of like, hey, I'm going to throw a conspiracy theory into this. I'm going to follow the president's lead and I'm going to enjoy this, and try to get reporters out there buzzing about it because it's a distraction.
COOPER: It's so interesting, Gloria, that the White House does or Sean Spicer doesn't just say, you know what, it was a mistake.
COOPER: The president is a human being, he make a mistake. We all make, you know, mistakes on Twitter, and then either, you know, correct them -- delete it and apologize or delete it and explain or just move on, but people making mistakes, it seems like this White House, there's a, you know, they're so stressed on being strong, everything strong, that any sign of a mistake is a lack of strength somehow.
BORGER: Well, and that's Donald Trump. Donald trump -- I mean, you remember the campaign. Donald Trump never admit to a mistake. He never came out and said I apologize to any of my Republican colleagues for calling them all kinds of names. He doesn't do that. He doesn't do that. So what they were trying to --
COOPER: He did apologize for the -- what he described as locker room talk. We won't go down that road again. BORGER: Right, well, yeah, he did, but it wasn't -- well, we wont go down that road again. But, you know, this is a president who doesn't like to admit mistakes. And so, what they try to do is to kind of pull the press's leg.
Well, you guys, this is my interpretation at least, you guys are all into conspiracy theories. Well here's another one for you to talk about, what's the conspiracy of this word?
And, yeah, it's kind of ridiculous, but there is no admitting a mistake, there is no admitting that a meeting didn't go as well as you thought, there is no admitting that a relationship with Angela Merkel isn't anything but unbelievably good.
COOPER: David, I mean what does all that say to you -- or it doesn't say anything about how the White House functions from the initial tweet to president's response to Sean Spicer's briefing?
CHALIAN: Yeah, this entire episode, Anderson, it seems to me is a perfect example of how much they are not in control of their own destiny at the moment. Here's a little distraction that they want to keep pumping because of how much the Russian investigation and other headlines have stalled legislative agenda swirling around them.
And they can't even actually get out and control this. Sean Spicer breathes new life into it. And -- what is completely silly fashion. And to me it's an example of a communications operation that doesn't know how to proactively get out there and sell the president's agenda.
[20:40:13]BORGER: How about making a funny joke about it? What, you know, why not do that? I mean why not, you know, the president is ordering a double covfefe this morning or something. That would be what a press secretary would do, except not this one and not this in this time.
COOPER: Yeah, David Chalian, Gloria Borger good covfefe. Thank you.
CHALIAN: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, just ahead the president is expected to pull out the Paris climate just as he promised on the campaign trail. His advisers are deeply divided on the issue. The question, could they change his mind in the 11th hour? We'll talk about that.
And later, breaking news new dash cam video of Tiger Woods being given a sobriety test. More on that ahead.
COOPER: At today's briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer would not say that Pres. Trump has made a final decision on whether to for the Paris Accord or to fight climate change. Reports indicate that he plans to pull out of the deal, as he promised during the campaign. If he does, the U.S. will become only the third country to reject Accord along Syria and Nicaragua. Sara Murray joins us now from the White House with the latest. So, the president earlier today said that he's still hearing from a lot of people both ways. That's a quote from him. Do we know how close he is to a decision?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he also said he will make this decision very soon and make the announcement very soon.
Now, sources have told us that the president is expected to withdraw from this agreement. They're still figuring out the mechanism exactly for that withdraw. But it was telling Sean Spicer at the podium today, not on camera. He clearly wanted to be very careful not to get in front of the president on this. He would not say whether Trump has made a decision about it and just said when he does make a decision, when he does decide to announce it publicly, all of you will know. He referred to Trump as the ultimate decider.
But, of course, we've seen from Trump's rhetoric on the campaign. He promised to pull out of this Paris climate agreement. He has called the climate change a hoax in the past, and certainly a number of world leaders left their meetings with him when he was abroad feeling very disappointed about the kind of language he was using when they were discussing the climate agreement. So in that sense it wouldn't be a total shock when he does comes out and make the announcement that we're expecting, Anderson.
COOPER: Do we know who exactly in the White House has the president's ear when it comes to this critical issue, because many opinions are divided.
MURRAY: This is like so many issues in this White House. It really splits the west wing. So we know for instance Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who the president was meeting with just today has been advocating for the president to stay in this agreement. We know that Ivanka Trump has been pushing the president to stay in it. Rick Perry, his Energy Secretary is pushing him to stay in.
But there's a different wing, sort of a more nationalist wing also in a west wing that's been pushing Trump to keep hi campaign promise. Of course, you know, Steve Bannon, his Chief Strategist is saying, get out, you promised to do this on the campaign, now follow through. And Trump's EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has made a very similar argument to him. That side seems to be winning. Seems to persuading the president, but, of course as we've seen time and time again until the words come out of his mouth, things can always change. And he does have sort of way of sort of moderating the things he's going to say and sometimes changing his mind completely based on the last person he spoke with, Anderson.
[20:45:22]COOPER: Sarah Murray, thanks. As we said, as Sarah mentioned Pres. Trump vowed to pull out of the Paris Accord during the campaign. He said so repeatedly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENT: The Paris climate deal. And I believe so much in the environment. Believe it or not people are shocked. We will cancel this deal so that our companies can compete.
I will also cancel all wasteful climate change spending from Obama including all global payments to the United Nations.
Tons of billions in payments to UN climate change program.
We're giving billions and billions of dollars away. We have no idea for what.
We're going to fix our own environment.
I've won many environmental awards. I'm not a believer in climate change.
We want clean, beautiful air, and we want crystal clear water.
In 1890 they had the greatest flood. In 1904 they had the greatest rainstorm. You know, look, it's weather.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As a citizen, Donald Trump has also called climate change a hoax perpetuated by Chinese to gain economic advantage over the U.S. So if he makes good on what is a campaign promise, we're going to talk about what the potential fallout is and potential upside for him among his base.
Joining us now is CNN Political Commentators Van Jones and Jason Miller. Van is host of CNN's The Messy Truth, served as the Green Jobs Advisor in the Obama White House in 2009. Jason Miller served the Senior Communications Advisor for the Trump campaign and Communications Director for the Trump transition.
Van, if the president does decide to back out of the Paris agreement, I meant it was one of his campaign promises. It is what he ran on, and voters elected him. He said he was going to do this, should really come as any surprise?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, whether or not he said he's going to do it or not going to do it, this is the dumbest thing you could possibly do. This American president pulling the rug out from under an American industry, this guy says he wants to be -- have America first.
The one part of the economy that's growing faster than anything else in the economy, bar none, is our clean energy sector. We've got more people working today in solar than we have coal miners. We've got more people working in wind than coal miners. We've got clean energy, clear battery, smart batteries. This is a dynamic section. If we're going to be first, we should be first in this. Why would the president of the United States pull the rug out from under an American industry and hand this advantage now to Germany to beat us in wind, to China to beat us in solar? It's the dumbest thing you could possibly do. Don't even ask about climate since just talk about American workers, American jobs and American invasion. It's totally nuts.
COOPER: Jason, what do you think about that?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Anderson, you started off the segment I think very correctly saying that we don't know yet for sure --
MILLER: -- if Pres. Trump is going to withdraw U.S. from the Paris Accord. I think there's also an important point here to say (inaudible) into it is that, right now myself and Van are debating, of course, Van, was -- work with the green energy and Green Jobs the Obama administration. But -- and myself as conservative Republican, we also support the environment. President Trump supports the environment.
And I think we're all on the same side here, that we want to make sure that we have clean water and clean air, but we can't go and absolutely gut our economy and especially go and fight with both hands tied behind our backs while other countries go and cheat on this --
COOPER: But he said it's helping the economy, because it's a dynamic growing sector.
MILLER: Well, no, but you look at the amount of money that gets pumped in. I mean let's talk about what this Paris Accord could potentially do. I've seen studies out there, say that could cost the U.S. economy upwards of 400,000 jobs over the next 10 or 15 years. Electricity cost could go up 13 to 20 percent, could reduce household earnings by upwards of $20,000 a year.
So there a lot of disadvantages, and Van, you don't actually think that China or India or Russia are going to go and play by the rules when we're talking about the Paris Accord --
JONES: Let me tell you what I do think. I do think that you're a smart guy, and I'm a smart guy, but you're not as smart as Jeff Immelt. He is for it. Exxon is for it. City bank is for it. The top CEOs in America are begging this president, please do not do this to us, and he is throwing them under the bus.
In other words, you have an agreement that American captains of industry say this is great for us and Donald Trump to make -- do on some crazy campaign promise apparently is going to go against American industry, innovation, and workers. That's what I know.
MILLER: So we're still waiting for the White House to give us the final word. And the president may come back and say, he is going to stay in the Accord or go and revise it. But here's the thing where I think a lot of folks who helped to elect the president are concern about is the fact that we're going to allow countries to go and dictate and put out there exactly how we're going to go --
JONES: But that's not true!
[20:50:01]MILLER: -- hold on. When you talk about the global climate fund, they try to raise $10 billion for it previously. The U.S. put a $3 billion. Now they want to take that to $100 billion, even though we're only contributing 18 percent of the carbon emissions. So are we going to go and almost double, overpay our share?
This is, look, the most -- that cogent argument, the most cogent argument that I've heard so far, is that Merkel and Macron and some of these international allies in Europe want to see us go and stay in it. But they're the same ones who are out trashing the president.
JONES: There are so many things that you've said that are just wrong. And I can't even get to all of them. Please listen to what I'm saying, folks at home. Here's the reality. You have a situation right now where 100 plus countries are all onboard with this. The United States is in a position to be the world leader of supplying this technology. Americans -- people who put this thing together are not idiots. This is setting us up to win something. And this guy is coming in and he's talking -- listen, yes, there is a climate fund to help some of these poorer countries get onboard. All that's going to do is set them up to be our customers. This is -- I just can't believe --
MILLER: But Van, there's no enforcement mechanism. So you understand my point, right? The fact that there is no enforcement --
COOPER: But Jason, you're arguing two things that you're saying, one point, we're going to be forced to do stuff, because we're part of this agreement on the other side you're saying there is no actual enforcement mechanism, and frankly, each country can decide to not -- it's all voluntary.
MILLER: Let me explain that, because once the U.S. enters into it, since we're a country that absolutely follows the rule of law, we'll go through and pass rules and regulations to go and meet these standards, where I don't think these other countries will. I think that's very easily --
COOPER: So Van, what about that point?
JONES: OK, so here's the deal. That's not, in fact, true. This thing is a very flexible agreement. There is not -- listen, you would be correct if we were talking about a treaty. This is an agreement. It's flexible. If it turns out that we can't meet our targets, we can back out, we can move. But what it does is, and why American CEOs are begging, please don't move the goalposts here, is it sets a clear standard for everybody and we can outcompete folks.
Germany, right now, is going to beat us on wind if we back away from this thing. China right now is -- they're already beating us on fabrication for solar.
Listen, can I not. I wish we had an hour to go on this. This is the most -- the biggest opportunity for jobs, innovation, and entrepreneurship in America. And the president of the United States is about to throw it under the bus, possibly. And it's wrong.
COOPER: We'll see what the White House decides, Van Jones and Jason Miller, thank you very much. Up next, more breaking news. Florida police release dashcam video of Tiger Woods' arrest on a DUI charge. He says he was using prescription medicine and fell asleep at the wheel. We'll show you the video in a moment.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight. Police in Florida have released dashcam video of Tiger Woods' arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence over the holiday weekend. The golf legend was arrested, as you know, on Monday morning. He blames the trouble on prescription medication. Rosa Flores is in Jupiter, Florida tonight joins us with details. What do we see on the tape that was released today?
[20:55:03]ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, it shows a very impaired Tiger Woods. It starts off with him having trouble getting out of his vehicle, then the police officer points out that one of his shoelaces is untied and Tiger Woods has difficulty figuring out which shoe is actually untied and then can't tie his shoelaces. So much so that the police officer says it's best for him to take off his shoes. Then the officer asks him a few questions and Tiger Woods' speech is slow and slurred. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you had anything to drink tonight?
TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I have not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you sure?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hundred percent?
WOODS: Hundred percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Have you taken any illegal drugs?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Have you taken any medication?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What have you taken? OK. Do you remember what happened when my partner came up behind you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you remember being asleep in the car?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't? OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: Then after that, the officer tells Tiger Woods, sir, you probably shouldn't be driving. Anderson?
COOPER: The police conducted a field sobriety test. What do we see when he tries to complete them.
FLORES: You know, he has a lot of trouble. It starts off when the police officer asks him to put his feet together. He really can't do that, the officer says, closer, closer, please put your feet together. And he can't do that.
Then the officer asks him to follow a light with his eyes only. And the officer says, sir, you're not even looking at the light. Then he asks him to walk in a line and he has a lot of difficulty doing that. And then finally he asks him to say the ABCs and Tiger Woods responds, uh, not recite the national anthem backwards? Shortly after that, Anderson, he is arrested on suspicion of DUI.
COOPER: All right, and he's obviously said that it was a prescription medication. It's, obviously, known that he's had back surgery. Rosa Flores, thanks very much.
Up next, there's more breaking news from Washington, including another possible undisclosed contact between Jeff Sessions and Russia's ambassador. Again, it's possible. We'll tell you what our sources are telling us about an investigation.
COOPER: Two breaking stories tonight. Word that prior to FBI Director James Comey will testify publicly before Congress and he'll say that the president pressured him on the Michael Flynn-Russia collusion investigation.
Then late tonight, this, new reporting on yet another possible, and we say possible, contact between a top Trump associate and Russia's ambassador.