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Sessions Now Recalls Key Meeting Related To Trump Campaign's Russia Contacts; Donald Trump Jr. Confirms Contact With WikiLeaks; Roy Moore Speaks In Alabama; Former Store Employee: Moore Was On Watch List At Local Mall; Senate Tax Bill To Include Repeal Of Obamacare Mandate; Four Dead In Shooting Rampage A Multiple Locations In Northern California Including Elementary School. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 14, 2017 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:41] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We're waiting to hear from Alabama City candidate Roy Moore. He's had a local revival meeting with his candidacy in serious jeopardy on many fronts this evening, at least as far the National Republican Party is concern. We'll bring you his remarks if he makes any news.

In the meantime, the man who Senate seat he's running to fill, so top in this hour, Deja vu meets Total Recall.

The Deja vu, Attorney General Sessions is back on Capitol Hill one more time, testifying about camping contact with Russia. I think it's less than complete, some say less than truthful testimony on prior occasions.

As for the recall, well, actually it was somewhat less than total. For example, he said that until the news of it came out last month, he'd forgotten the meeting back in March of last year which Campaign Adviser, George Papadopoulos, discussed contact with Russians and proposed the meeting between candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin. However, he did remember today that did the right thing in that meeting.


REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Yes or no, did Mr. Papadopoulos mention his outreach to the Russian government during that meeting?

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: He made some comment to that effect as I remember after having --


NADLER: I asked you yes or no. I don't have time.

SESSIONS: All right.

NADLER: There are reports that you shut George down, "when he proposed that meeting with Putin," Is this correct, yes or no?

SESSIONS: Yes. I pushed back.


COOPER: Well, just part of the testimony today. CNN's Pamela Brown joins us now with more. So the third hearing today for Attorney General Sessions, what are people saying about it, what did you learned?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So the attorney general said today, Anderson, that he remembered Trump campaign contacts with Russians but he didn't recall in previous hearings as recently as last month and this is after a media report surfaced about a March 26 meeting where campaign volunteer, George Papadopoulos, suggested setting up a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

Sessions said after reading about Padopoulos's account that, as you know, was in court documents, it came back to him that the meeting did in fact happened, and as you heard him say, he pushed back, according to him, against the suggestion that Putin and Trump should meet during the campaign. But he made pretty clear, that's really the only detail he recalled from that meeting.

He also said he doesn't remember anything about Carter Page's visit to Moscow where he met with Russians, even though Page said he did tell Sessions in passing.

Throughout the hearing, Sessions repeatedly said he didn't recall details about contacts with Russians, the campaigns contact with Russians.

At one point, Anderson, the senator brought to his attention, he had said it 20 times just during the hearing.

COOPER: Did he give a reason for why he had forgotten so many details?

BROWN: So he explained that the campaign was chaotic. It was easy to forget the details in the midst of constant travel and very little sleep. He also said when it came to this meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, (INAUDIBLE) during the campaign, but he didn't mention it in a previous hearing because his focus at the time was on responding to concerns he was engaging in continuous meetings with the Russians as a campaign surrogate. But he said, that didn't mean he had never met a Russian in the history of his life.

Thought, it is worth noting Ambassador Kislyak reportedly told his superiors in Moscow that he met with Sessions a couple of times during the campaign, and the two men did have discussions about campaign- related matters.

But Sessions today, testified that he has never lied or misled Congress under oath regarding what he could recall at the time. Anderson.

COOPER: Pamela Brown. Thanks very much.

Joining us now, is Democratic Congressman, Jim Himes, who sits on the House Intelligent Committee, which is, you know, is also investigating the campaign in Russia.

Congressman Hanks, does that make sense to you, what the attorney general could and could not remember today? Do you buy it?

REP. JIM HIMES (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, you know, look, it's not impossible to believe that in the hurley-burly of a campaign, somebody might forget a junior or anyone coming up to you and saying hey, I've got this thing going on. So, that's not -- that's -- who knows?

But look, bigger picture, this is part of a much larger pattern that involves people like General Flynn and involves people like Donald Trump Jr., of people forgetting or simply lying about contacts with Russia. That doesn't necessarily imply that those contacts with Russia were wrong or a violation of criminal law, that, of course, is what the various investigations they are to determine, but it's one more brick in this wall of people not coming out and being clear and honest about what those contacts with Russia were.

[21:04:59] COOPER: Sessions made it clear today that he does not accept and rejects accusations that he has ever lied under oath, despite the inconsistencies of what he's said. Do you believe he's lied under oath?

HIMES: Well, you know, again, that's hard to say. You'd have to be inside Jeff Sessions' mind to know that for sure. But again, for me, as one of the members of an investigatory committee, this is yet another example of, you know, one of -- half dozen senior Trump administration people, senior Trump campaign people who are either forgetting, or blatantly lying about their contacts with Russians.

So, I don't want to try to climb into Jeff Sessions' head. But, you know, if my friends on the Republican side of the aisle are desperate for this investigation to go away, the best way for this investigation to engage and to go away, of course, is for people to be totally up front. To recall everything and put the facts out there and let the investigations conclude and American people form their judgments.

COOPER: So when someone is testifying before the committee and they've sworn to tell the truth and to answer questions completely, is it fine for them to just say, we'll, I'm not going to answer that because I don't think I should talk about that conversation I had if, I mean, not -- a conversation that is not protected under executive privilege, the White House hasn't claimed executive privilege, a monopoly (INAUDIBLE)? I mean, because it seems like Sessions has done that a number of times. A Democratic congressman raised questions about that today and tried to get answer from the chairman of the committee about what the rules are and we sort to brush off.

HIMES: Yes. Yes. No, none actually has been a theme throughout this investigation, you know, the Carter Page transcript now public, shows that Carter Page interview with my committee, tried to assert some sort of privilege associated with a nondisclosure agreement that he signed with the Trump campaign.

The reality is that, yes, of course, attorney-client privilege exists, executive privilege exists, the right to not incriminate yourself onto the Fifth Amendment exists. That doesn't mean those things can't be used to hide facts that are inconvenient or embarrassing or incriminating.

And so, part of the investigation I'm involved in is really working through whether you have the right to assert attorney-client privilege, whether you have the right to assert the contractual obligations in MDA (ph) against the congressional investigation. This is an ongoing negotiation to many of our interviews.

COOPER: So we now know that Donald Trump Jr.'s various contacts with Russians. He also is communicating with WikiLeaks about their publication of hacked DNC e-mails. Is this just more smoke or are we moving into territory where you believe, I mean, there is actually fire here?

HIMES: Well, you know, I wouldn't use smoke or fire. Remember where we started. We started in a place where there was a blanket, unconditional denial of any contact with the Russians and not because the FBI or because the House of the Senate investigations approved it, but because the media and Donald Trump admitted it. We now know in two separate occasions, he had a meeting in which he met with Russians for the explicit purpose of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton and as of the publication of "The Atlantic" story yesterday, I guess it was, and Donald Trump Jr.'s confirmation of it, he was in contact with WikiLeaks for the same purpose.

And make no mistake, WikiLeaks, I understand they're complicated and hard to think of identity, but WikiLeaks is in a non-U.S. organization that does not have the best interest of the United States in mind.

In fact, in my opinion anyway, dedicated to creating chaos, slowing down, obstructing American national aims. And the president's son was aggressively seeking communication and information from that entity.

COOPER: Has Trump Jr. agreed to come speak with the House Intelligence Committee or has it scheduled?

HIMES: Let me just say, that as you might imagine where we and the Senate are quite interested in hearing from him about these two episodes, the meeting with the Russians that, again, he owned up to and the communications that he owned up to with WikiLeaks, which again, is not a group that has American stability or prosperity in mind.

COOPER: All right. Congressman Himes. Thanks very much.

HIMES: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: I want to bring in the panel, David Gregory, Scott Jennings, Angela Rye, Paris Dennard, and Symone Sanders.

David, what do you make of Sessions yet again on Capitol Hill? DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's a bad day for him. I think he looks strained in his memory at the very least. He seems very careful in his answers. I think he's lost a lot of credibility among his colleagues on Capitol Hill, to say nothing of the distraction that he's creating for the administration.

And our president, who is already down on him, putting him in a position where he's only sure of himself when it comes to what the right answer would have been which was to tell Papadopoulos no, you should've arranged it.

COOPER: But no other details of the actual meeting?

[21:09:57] GREGORY: But he can't remember these other details it's sloppy in the very least. But I think the bigger picture is important too. You have an embattled attorney general who has got a president who is actively dismissive of the threat that Russia posed and contentious of the investigation to get to the bottom of that. And he is pushing his attorney general around on this and then, getting him to try to go into these extra matters with Hillary Clinton.

He looks weak as an attorney general. And I think it's quite interesting that the majority leader of the senate is going out of his way to say the best person for that Alabama seat is the current attorney general. He may say something about what he knows about whether Sessions would like the get out of that job.

COOPER: Scott, just from a, you know, testimony standpoint, is never good if you have to come back three times to reveal what you could have done the first time, if you are able to.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, no doubt. I mean, any time you have to clean things up as many times as you he has. It creates credibility questions.

Look, these questions he's answering about this Papadopoulos meeting, you have to believe that this meeting -- to believe this is a real problem, you have to believe this was some high-level confab of real players. And the reality is, as far as I can tell, it was a photo op set up to give off the appearance that they actually had a foreign policy team. They didn't have a foreign policy team. They had a photo op. This thing met one time.

I'm not surprised he can't remember what happened in a photo op because that's all that it was. And we're going to see this picture on television a hundred times and we're going to play make believe that this was a real policy meeting. That's baloney. This campaign was disorganized at the time. They were pulling it together on the fly.

COOPER: -- these five people and (INAUDIBLE).

JENNINGS: Look, I just don't believe Jeff Sessions can remember anything from this meeting because it wasn't important. It was a photo op.

GREGORY: And the point about that disorganization that is as I think some people pointed out, a right atmosphere to exploit.


GREGORY: If you are the Russian. I think that's a problem.

JENNINGS: I totally agree. I think these people were being cultivated by the Russians because they are idiots. And these people went overseas and did things they shouldn't have done, but that doesn't make Jeff Sessions a bad person, which is what we're talking about today.

COOPER: Angela.

RYE: So I don't think we're talking about whether or not Jeff Sessions is a bad person. I think we're talking about whether or not his credibility, not only as attorney general but as someone who has direct knowledge about any type of Russian contacts, it has been destroyed. And at this point, I don't know what's worse, you saying that they didn't have a foreign policy team or you saying that this issue is fabricated in some way.

The fact that we're talking about the president of the United States now sitting at that table could potentially be as Russian government (INAUDIBLE) is a problem, right? Like, this is by no stretch a light matter or it can at least, should be taking in any type of light- hearted way.

I think the fact of the matter is now that Jeff Sessions, Anderson, to you point, has been there three times to testify to this. The fact of the matter is now James Comey was said to have been fired for this reason. The fact of the matter is now Donald Trump Jr. has had some type of contact with WikiLeaks. The fact of the matter is now this is not just a distraction that the attorney general has created. This is a distraction from the very top.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Which is many of the problems that the Trump, now administration, the problems that they enjoy are a lot of issues that they then manufactured themselves.

We have Donald Trump at the podium, then, candidate Trump, saying, you know, Russians, if you're listening, hacked, you know, we'd like to see those missing e-mails.

You have Donald Trump Jr. tweeting and sending, you know, accounts and different things for his father to tweet.

And so, these are all unforced errors. I mean, the fact that Robert Mueller even has a job as a special counsel is because of an action that Donald Trump, President Trump himself took.

So, I think it's important for folks to remember that these are problems that the administration brought upon themselves. And the Twitter that has been the president, like these Twitter fingers, may be is demise.

COOPER: Paris, do you think Attorney General Sessions has been truthful in his (INAUDIBLE) in Congress?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the attorney general has been truthful. I don't think that this man is a liar. I don't think that -- I mean, let's backtrack. He is long-term been in these positions of being in the legal profession, being in the public official, he's a religious man. When he puts his hand on the Bible he raise it, takes the oath, I think he means it. But is he -- need to take some ginkgo biloba? Probably.

RYE: What?

JENNINGS: What, some ginkgo biloba?



DENNARD: And that might be something that he might need to do?

RYE: Only ginkgo could live with the lie.

DENNARD: To recall some of these things. But at the end of the day, the question is this, is there a crime? The question is, even if they took a meeting, even if they asked about Papadopoulos and he told them not to do it. All of these things that have been happening, this drip, drip, drip, drip, drip. Nothing has come up.

GREGORY: Right, but it's not our job to put all this together. I mean, we have a special --

DENNARD: -- then so be it. And I think that that's why it's important. If this Russian --

[21:15:02] COOPER: Well, somebody is coming (ph) for Papadopoulos.


GREGORY: -- it's not our job to put all these together. The special prosecutor will drive this toward a conclusion. What we do know as citizens and journalists watching this is we have an administration that said there just nothing to see here. There was nothing that went on.

Always, except for that, yes, but didn't mean anything, oh except for that, except that didn't meant mean anything.

DENNARD: But it didn't mean --

GREGORY: And that's -- because they don't know what the totality of it is yet. We can't make --

DENNARD: -- thus far, it's been zero.

COOPER: Let's take a quick a break. We'll continue the discussion. We continue and wait for Roy Moore to speak on top of everything else.

Tonight, we'll pick up the conversation. We'll discuss for some more ahead.

And later, GOP lawmakers and their high stakes gamble, can they pass a tax bill by adding a controversial Obamacare repeal measure to it? That and more when we continue.


COOPER: Well, ginkgo biloba or not, Attorney Sessions said I do not recall a lot today during testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. He said he do not recall the meeting in March last year, which contact with Russia was discussed, at least not until he read about it in the paper last month. He also tried to explain why. Listen.


SESSIONS: It was a form of chaos everyday from day one. We traveled sometimes to several places in one day, sleep was in short supply.


COOPER: Go back with the panel, their names has (INAUDIBLE), sleep has been in short supply here as well.

Paris, I mean you -- you know, I think some people watching this who are watching with a critical eye would say that, it does seem like a lot of people the president's orbit have difficult time, time after time, remembering anything to do with Russia. And then yet, over time, it keeps popping up.

DENNARD: Yes. Look, I think some of the people could be reflecting back and say, I wish I would have come forward and just said I have this meeting. Instead, this took place but they didn't. And I think they did not do that because to Scott's point, many of these things worth anything. They weren't insignificant.

[21:20:05] And so to breathe life into something that is insignificant, when the media has been such focus, there's been so much focused on Russia collusion, Russia collusion that they step back and said--

COOPER: But then had -- the White House early on, I mean, just said, you know what, yes, let's put this all out here right now. We've looked through our e-mails, we looked through --

SANDERS: -- the hearing laws well today had, we had up front answers as well.

COOPER: Well, if there's no there, there, why not -- there could -- it's this -- I mean, this has been dragging on for a year and there's no end in sight.

SANDERS: I think part of the reason is, look, I mean, it is just general knowledge, I do believe, on a any campaign, but especially presidential campaign. If foreign entity approaches you and you are having conversations of the foreign entity that is out of the preview of their job, that's probably something you should be doing. And I think what we've seen is folks leave off information of that nature because they know it is inappropriate and it would be frowned upon and picked apart, much like it has happened since it has come out in the media.

But this -- I just want to reiterate that this is not normal and for, you know, multiple folks have been involved for the Trump campaign and now the Trump administration to note, oh this, you know, the campaign was chaotic, we never got any much sleep. That's every campaign have ever work. We all --


GREGORY: A message was sent from the top, which is -- that this is worthless and there's nothing here. So --

COOPER: And it's also being used to de-legitimize the election.

GREGORY: Right, and then it is all fake. And so, if you work for anywhere in the administration, you think, well this isn't much of a priority. And by the way, it's not the news media -- this was known back in October of 2016 that the Russians were trying to interfere in the election, the previous administration knew, didn't do at that time about it, which is an issue.

But people knew people in -- then candidates' orbit in the campaign, in the news media. This was before as a special prosecutor. Somebody in the White House should have stood up and said, look, we are going to get to the bottom of this. Anybody who even looked at Russia, we want to know, what the context is about.

COOPER: Do you think that would have actually, I mean, it would been painful perhaps initially but would have long term been better or doesn't work that way?

JENNINGS: No, I think it would have been better to get that out up front. I think there's two things going on this week that are driving the attention on Russia. The Sessions' testimony today is getting a lot of attention. I think this meeting that we're obsessing over is unimportant compared to the WikiLeaks issue.

I mean, most people that I know think of WikiLeaks the way that the intelligence agencies do, they are foreign hostile intelligence service. And when you get messages from those kinds of people, we're well beyond some campaign photo op as a matter of an optics problem, and frankly, as a matter of a collusion problem.

So, to me, everything going on in this particular week, I worry less about Jeff Sessions' memory of meeting with some, you know, heckle and jeckle Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. I worry more about this concept that WikiLeaks was apparently able to send messages that programmed the communications of a presidential candidate.

COOPER: Judge Moore, by the way, has just taken the podium at this revival meeting in Jackson, Alabama. Let's listen.

ROY MOORE, U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, thank you very much. What an honor it is to be with you. I hope you can hear me.



MOORE: Is this better?



MOORE: OK. It is a great honor to be here. And I thank Pastor (INAUDIBLE) for the invitation and by Allison for the introduction, and it was a, you know, a little humble to follow a preacher from Texas. That they do everything big in Texas and we're just a little Alabama, so I think get used to that. But I will act like a preacher a little bit and take off my watch and set it here, so I don't -- you know, as were preachers do, you know, what that means, don't you?


MOORE: Not much. But anyway, actually, it does. I think he does make much when you can't see her. The hands. But anyway, I'll try.

You know, as I came here, I didn't know exactly, I haven't got a planned speech but it rhymes with what you've been listening here, God save America.


MOORE: And on the wall, you can see, if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sins and will heal their land. I won't tell you, I'm running for United States Senate, if you know, but I'm not going to heal your land, neither President Trump, President Obama, any president, any Supreme Court, any senator, any representative, they are not going to heal your land, only God will heal your land.


MOORE: So, I'm going to talk about that a little bit because I've played a little part in this scenario going on in this country. Obviously, I made a few people mad. I'm the only one--

COOPER: We're going to continue to monitor Judge Moore to see if he begins to talk about the situation that he is facing the allegations and some of the new allegations that have come forward. We'll talk about that next as well.

[21:25:07] Also later, other breaking news from Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans attempting a partial Obamacare repeal inside their tax plan. About the latest on Hill from that next.


MOORE: So this judge is a little--

COOPER: Embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is addressing revival meeting right now in Jackson, Alabama. He's obviously under fire from many directions especially from his path. The latest report that he was on an unofficial watch list that the local mall allegedly for approaching girls, back now with the panel.

Scott, I mean as you looked and I'm wondering what you're hearing about, what do you think is going to at all this?

JENNINGS: Well, I've talked to some very high level Republicans in Washington tonight and they are very concerned because they've just conducted some polling in they have found that Moore, according to their research is cratering, that Jones is well ahead in his race now. We've seen some very volatile polling but according to their data that they just got this afternoon, they see Moore falling way behind Jones.

And so, there's a scramble right now to see if he can be replaced. Ultimately, what I'm hearing is that all roads lead back to the White House. Only Donald Trump, the president, has the influence enough with the governor of Alabama and the Alabama Republican Party to get him to say withdraw Roy Moore's candidacy as a Republican, which they can do.

[21:30:01]COOPER: How would that work because -- he can't be taken off the ballot?

JENNINGS: He cannot be physically taken off the ballot, but his name can be withdrawn as a candidate and votes for him would not count.

There's other things in the poll that are interesting. Jeff Sessions still polls extremely well in the state of Alabama according to what my sources are telling me. In fact, handling betting Jones in a head- to-head if that's options they're able to pursue.

Another thing that I was talked to about tonight an issue that's being researched is whether Luther Strange, the current occupant of the seat, could even resign so that Jeff Sessions could be reappointed to his old seat. I think this is a theory and it's not been fully bedded. But you can see the scramble is on to try to get more out of this race because there is a belief among the highest level of Republicans tonight that Jones is pulling away from Moore.

COOPER: But with the theory on, for Luther Strange, and again, this is just -- you're saying from based on your sources, it's just being investigated. But if Luther Strange was to step down now, Jeff Sessions would be appointed. That means there would be no election.

JENNINGS: There's a one theory that there may not have to be an election. There's another theory that there could be an election. But either way, Sessions is still very popular in Alabama. And according to the survey where he was leading Jones on the ballot test.

So, there's a lot of theories and ideas floating around out there. But, look, the Republican Party is in a tough way. And frankly, only Donald Trump really has the influence to solve it. COOPER: Paris, I mean, the president did buy himself some time. He said and he was asked about this, the trip to Asia he said, "I have to get back into the country to see what's happening."

DENNARD: I think the irony of all this is now, because God they knows, President Trump's influence on Alabama Republican Party to say who to be the next senator. Well, he did this.

Remember, he wanted Luther Strange from the beginning. He campaigned for Luther Strange hard. And a lot of people were against him.

But now if you're President Trump, you're looking back and saying, "I told you so."

SANDERS: I'm concerned that Republicans, not just in Alabama but in Washington, are talking about ways to avoid an election because they do not want their candidate to lose. Like they are talking about changing the rules and (INAUDIBLE) something to happen so that Doug Jones does not have to go on to battle against Roy Moore and Doug Jones wins. That is not democracy.

DENNARD: Sounds like the DNC.

SANDERS: No, it doesn't sound like the DNC. It sound -- It will -- I mean this is more (INAUDIBLE). I don't think anybody at the Democratic National Committee was -- or thinking about ways how can we actually change local elections, primaries or caucuses.

COOPER: I think there are some Republicans in Alabama who support Roy Moore who would agree with you.

RYE: Yes.

JENNINGS: Well, to your point, though, according to what I read Donna Brazile --


JENNINGS: -- last year to put Joe Biden --


RYE: Can I get say something about Roy Moore because he's still on the screen? So, one of the things that I would love to do for a moment is just talk about the strategy of this moment, right?

Roy Moore is at a revival. More than 35 percent of folks in Alabama are evangelicals. This is brilliant. Whether we like Roy Moore or whether we believe he's a low down dirty buzzard like I do, or not, this is a brilliant strategic move.

Now, I don't know how strategic and (INAUDIBLE) it was for him to be speaking off the cuff and said revival, but I think it was very smart for them to go and allow him to quote 2 Chronicles, talking about turning from one's wicked ways. And I also think of a scripture that talks about, if you won't speak, the rocks will cry out. He's hardheaded because he won't necessarily apologize to the American people for what are clearly past discretion's. But I think it's brilliant on his part to go and appeal for evangelical voters to wins the race.

GREGORY: The party is looking at him, cratering (ph) him the race.

RYE: Sure.

GREGORY: And what I think is so interesting here, I mean, think of the back story, right? The president did regret backing Strange. But he did what Mitch McConnell wanted him to do. But ultimately, in a losing effort, and if you look at, now Roy Moore is cratering.

And then there's the question of Sessions that we begin with. I wonder if, you know, if (INAUDIBLE) back to the White House perhaps there's a couple of problems it can be solved at ones.

Maybe President Trump doesn't want Jeff Sessions to be the attorney general anymore. And he can encourage him to get on the ballot as Mitch McConnell would like and try to salvage that seat. And remember the broader context. He still has to get tax reform through. He can't afford to lose in a seat in Alabama.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We're going to continue the discussion about Judge Moore and the implications in Washington, and for the president's agenda. We'll be right back.


[21:38:30] COOPER: Judge Roy Moore speaking at a revival meeting in Jackson Alabama. He is speaking at -- as I said, he just mentioned -- let's listen to what he just said about the allegations against him.

MOORE: Why do you think I'm being harassed by the media, by people pushing for allegations in the last 28 days of this election? The last 30 days it begin. After 40 something years of fighting this battle, I am now facing allegations. And that's all the press want to talk about. But I want to talk about the issue. I want to talk about where this country is going. And if we don't come back to God, we're not going anywhere.

COOPER: He just said he's being harassed by the media. Back now with the panel.

Scott, we were talking during the break about, obviously, the importance of this race, but also, in terms of for those who want to see the president's agenda moving forward. Just describe the timetable of what's ahead.

JENNINGS: Sure. They're in the middle of this tax reform movement right now. And they have good momentum for it. Today the Senate decided to put the repealing, the individual mandate of Obamacare in the bill. According to Senator John Thune they had 50 votes for this plan which also has a deal to pass Alexander Murray, which people like on the subsidies. That's 50 votes as the Senate is currently constituted. Senator McConnell has laid out a time line where by the Senate may move on this, say the first week of December.

This election in Alabama is December the 12th. They have 50 votes today, if the calendar pushes on tax reform and Jones beats Moore or Jones beats whoever in Alabama, we're not at 50 anymore. Now we're at 49 on the Republican tax plan.

[21:40:11] So, this situation in Alabama, right now, maybe the thing that keeps the Republican's in Congress on track because if they've got 50 votes for this deal with the individual mandate repeal in it, they can't afford to lose even one.

COOPER: So, did the (INAUDIBLE) is to get this done --


COOPER: -- before that.

JENNINGS: I mean, based on the polling I was briefed on. If they don't get this done before a Democrat may win the seat in Alabama, getting the individual mandate repealed in this tax bill will be really, really difficult. It doesn't mean tax reform overall is dead, but to get it done the way they want with the additional 338 billion in revenue that would probably kill it.

GREGORY: Plus, you know, Trump Adviser, Steve Bannon, the former advisor is talking about getting rid of Mitch McConnell. They've taken Mitch McConnell's calls at the White House now because he's the only one with a plan of how to keep this tax reform bill together. And that road may now run through Alabama which is why there's the urgency on this. And why the president may have a big role to play.

SANDERS: But it's the high bar, though, because the tax bill specifically with this individual mandate, this partial repeal, if you will, add in the there, is not very popular.

And today, you know, you have folks coming out, you know, telling our reporters on CNN and other networks that they needed to do this in the bill in order to pay for tax cuts. Well, tax cuts for billionaires are not popular with the American people.

So, I think they might find it harder to get this through the court of public opinion if you will. I think a lot people going to be calling their senators and their members of Congress in the next couple weeks.

COOPER: I mean, will the president really only get involved with this in a deeper way if, I mean, if the -- if there is internal polling showing that he's cratering. I mean, if he is showing that he could actually win against Jones, then it would be a double blow to the president who already back Luther Strange who then goes against Roy Moore, Roy Moore actually wins, that doesn't look good for President Trump. JENNINGS: I mean, if you told Donald Trump at the beginning of this year that Democrats were going to control the Senate seat in Alabama and your agenda would be imperiled for the remainder of the first half of your first term. Everybody would have said, well, that's crazy. But that's where we are. And that's why the president in my view ultimately has to get involved. Think what you --

COOPER: Do you think he should get involved?


COOPER: But what does he do?

JENNINGS: He's the only one who will have to influence, to convince the governor of Alabama and the Alabama Republican Party to do the right thing and remove Moore's name from nomination. And to me that's the only option.

DENNARD: It didn't work. Look, if that was true, then Luther Strange would be sitting there as the candidate. They ignored the president and voted for Roy Moore. He campaign hard for Luther Strange.

Now, the president is someone who wants a win. The only way he will get engaged is if he foresees that he will not be able to get a legislative win before Thanksgiving or before the end of this year. That's when he will do this. But he's not going to do it to the payroll of this top -- for politics.

GREGORY: If there's enough voters including Republicans offering kind of Republicans who were embarrassed by the specter (ph) of Moore. And they really see a cratering.

I mean, I think the White House is going to listen to Mitch McConnell on this one. And say, look, the best chance to salvage tax reform is to go in this direction.

RYE: Here is the thing that I think that we often miss. Talking about policy in these the lofty terms, sometimes. And that's the impact on people's lives.

So we talked about the billions of dollars that they could potentially save but not the 13 million people whose lives and health would be in peril if this individual mandate repeal went forward. I think that is the important thing.

Symone, to your point, that is the pressure point that people need to use when calling their members of Congress. This is the key issue for so many of us. It's the reason why the Affordable Care Act was passed to begin with. And why the 60 plus attempts to repeal Obamacare have been unsuccessful.

COOPER: We're going to take another quick break. When we come back, we'll talk more about this push for a tax bill which could now depend (ph) as we've been saying on what's happening in Alabama tonight. We'll get the latest from the Hill and from the panel, next.


[21:47:37] COOPER: As we've been discussing, not only are events moving quickly in the Alabama Senate race in the polls along with it, but on top of all that, the entire GOP strategy for passing a tax bill could hinge to some extent or perhaps to a big extent Scott was just talking about and what happen with Roy Moore.

Here's another twist, the new Republican maneuver to include a partial Obamacare repeal in the Senate tax plan. Sources tell CNN, the Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee unanimously supported the edition.

Phil Mattingly joins us now from the Hill with the latest. So, clearly, a lot at stake here for the Republicans, Phil.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, no question at all and this is about revenue. Find simple, $338 billion to be exact, that's what the CBO estimates in deficit savings that would come from a repeal of the individual mandate. And that's the money that Republicans disparately need. They need it to it make permanent -- their corporate tax cuts. They needed to add more targeted relief on the middle class side of tax.

Because what's more importantly, Anderson, they need it to ensure that based on the budget rules, they can actually move this through on a simple majority.

The tradeoff with all of this is with that comes the numbers $13 million and 10 percent. And former -- that would be -- how many people would lose insurance over the course of 10 year, the latter, that's how many premiums would go up over the course of each year in a 10 year period.

That's the tradeoff, right here. Understanding the political damage, this may cause the tradeoff being they can hopefully get the tax bill through, Anderson.

COOPER: Where do Republican stand right now on this?

MATTINGLY: Look, it's a calculated risk. There's no question about it. They understand kind of how this really seared in their memory, the health care debate has been, and they understand that up to the point -- that of now, currently, they haven't been able to get the votes for health care.

Here is where the calculation is right now. At least according to your prepositions that I've been speaking with, they believe the political imperative, the speed with which they're moving with this right now. The idea that they need to do something, anything on the legislative front will end up winning the day over the political concerns, over riling up the Democratic base, over the concerns of members of their own party about co-mingling health care with tax reform.

The big question now is, will that gamble pay off? At this moment right now, they feel comfortable. There's -- the only one reason this would end up in the bill. And that's because they think they can pass it within inside of it, but the question remains, Anderson, the U.S. Senate on the Republican side of things has not proven that they can do anything when it comes to health care, at least get 50 votes for that at any point throughout the last 10 months. They are now clogging up what otherwise has been a fairly smooth process by adding health care into it.

Will it work out? Will they need the money? They clearly had to do it, but the question remains, could this end up sinking entirely? Right now, they don't have that answer, Anderson.

[21:50:01] COOPER: Phil Mattingly, thanks very much, back now with the panel. How do you see it, Scott?

JENNINGS: I think right now, they have 50 votes for this. I think if they lose the Senate race in Alabama, you know, they're going to lose the revenue, because I don't think they'll have enough votes to do the individual mandate repeal. So speed here. Time is of the essence. Speed kills in this case and they've got to move that --

COOPER: Is it wise to put this I mean, to bring the health care debate into this?

JENNINGS: Well, they need the money, number one. Number two, they're also trying to satisfy a base that is still hopping mad that they failed on Obamacare repeal to begin with. So there's two good reasons to do it. I understand why they're gambling with it. And I understand why they're moving do fast.

GREGORY: There's other reason not to do it. I mean, I think it's worth taking a look at how haphazard and disorganized this approach has been to very quickly get tax reform through. They are phasing in some of these cuts over time, and yet, because that's how they meet some of the revenue goals. And yet, they tell us that it will spark economic growth. It's going to overcome deficit concerns. It doesn't make sense. You also risk losing votes because of lack of the individual mandate.

And the idea that you just want to play around with this new health care system, you take away that individual mandate, which is struggling as it is. It is a key pillar to what makes a close to universal health care system actually work, which is that young healthy people buy in --


GREGORY: -- as well as older or sick people, it's what is the foundation of it. So, I think it certainly politically risky and the policy could be a mess as well.


SANDERS: I just want to -- the other point here is, I'm not sure about that 50, because, I know, Lisa Murkowski was on record today saying, she have questions about what repealing -- a partial repealed of the individual mandate would mean for, not just her constituents but Americans across the board and said she needed more answers on that. So this is just not popular.

DENNARD: But you also have Senator McCain who didn't vote for the last time said that he was support of this. And remember, this is political, the House passed it. The House did their job and to Scott's point, the Senate needs to do something to satisfy their base, because a lot of people look at this and said, you all fail to do what you -- what we sent you there to do.

So adding this on, is a smart political move especially if you can get Senator McCain and others who were hold outs last time to come onboard and support it.

RYE: But again, I think we can not ignore that when you ram policy through oftentimes, there are major blank spot in --

DENNARD: Like Obamacare.

RYE: Actually, no, not like Obamacare. Like this --

DENNARD: But that was a ram through policy that have major --


RYE: -- over the 60 plus attempts where you all had epic film on --

DENNARD: But we did it with the House, it's about to do --

RYE: So, when the reason why you did -- through the House peers (ph) is because there's this process called redistricting and district have been drawn (ph) so that they're very conservative. So that's far easier on the House side, but people that have to be accountable to larger constituents with different interests, you can't get it done. And the reason for that is people don't want to lose their health care.

If you continue to just say, we want to undo everything about President Obama's legacy regardless of the societal impact and quite literally the livelihood of Americans, I think that you really have to start taking more calculated risk. Because this one is just, frankly, not wise. That is the reason why it has not work up to the --

COOPER: But is the risk -- the political risk of not doing something for Republicans, is -- I mean, isn't that primary in their mind right now?

RYE: I think that it's a big issue particularly when you look at the fact that there's not been any major achievement of this administration just so far because they haven't been very calculated and thoughtful about --

GREGORY: No. But this is the reason why they're willing to take a gamble here.

COOPER: Finish what you're saying. Angela, finish what you are saying. RYE: So my point is, you have a situation where they've not been able to move the needle on any major achievement for Donald Trump. He does not have anything to talk (p) right now, except for an executive order trying to undo Obamacare.

And now, here you are struggling to try to figure out and yet again an Obamacare legacy issue by time it's the tax reform, which would have been a signature achievement of theirs.

I think that they're taking a really -- they're making a huge risk -- taking a huge risk.

COOPER: David?

GREGORY: I just thin it's -- like I said, I mean, it's obviously a risk they think is worth taking to Scott's point because they do have to get something done on this. I think it is rushed. I think it's, you know, I think there's a lot of mistakes that could come out of all of this. But, you know, right now they've got to look at the numbers. And then certain things can be reconciled when they have a bill that they can negotiate back with the House.

JENNINGS: This is the first time all year that it's felt like the Senate Republicans and the Congressional Republicans generally have had momentum. You know, there's been a lot to starts and stops on things. They done a good job lately since McConnell and Trump appeared in the Rose Garden. They've got serious movement on judges.

Right now, Donald Trump is out pacing the last several presidents on circuit judges. They've got movement on tax reform. Now they've got the budget reconciliation bill done, which people thought was a problem and they got that done with little problem.

So we actually have momentum right now. And I think that is adding to the idea that we're willing to take a risk because we have policy movement. People are feeling good about being on the team. The president is engagement. So when you had momentum, that's when you can take a risk --

SANDERS: But if I'm working on behalf of the Democrats next year in 2018, we're talking about writing ads, and doing digital ads and saying, when the Republicans had a chance to "get something done," the one thing they got done was tax cuts for billionaires and millionaires.

[21:55:09] And you 13 million people lost health care coverage. Those are the kinds of ads I would run. That's the kind of message --


JENNINGS: But you run -- but Democrats run those ads for every election. Every election, its tax cuts for billionaires. And make it --


JENNINGS: And who controls the Congress?

SANDERS: I only think it's --

JENNINGS: And who controls the White House?

SANDERS: I think it's different here because, look, (INAUDIBLE) able to get stuff done, Donald Trump, is the deal maker. We zero deals. We had nothing done. And the one thing you're going to get done is something that hurts middle-class Americans when they have noted (ph) that they do not like this health care bill.

COOPER: We got a quick --

SANDERS: They do not like that --

DENNARD: The president say, he will not signed any bill that is given --

SANDERS: I don't believe what the president said.


COOPER: We're going to leave it on that note. I want to thank everybody.

Coming up, the latest on a shooting rampage in Northern California left at least four people dead before police killed the gunman. The latest on what happened.


COOPER: Authorities in California say what seemed to have started as a domestic dispute turn into a deadly shooting rampage through a remote county in the northern part of the state just south of the city of Redding. The shooter killed at least four people, wounded at least 10 and at least seven separate locations including elementary school, where he fired multiple rounds into the building hitting at least one student.

The local assistance sheriff said tonight that the gunman actually try to get into the school couldn't because the staff quickly put it on lock down.

The gunman was killed in the shootout with police.

That's it for us. Thanks for watching. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon, "CNN Tonight" starts now.