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RNC Breaks Silence on Support for Roy Moore; Newly Surfaced Comments from Roy Moore. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 7, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:05] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

There's breaking news tonight on many fronts. Whether it's the wildfires in southern California, new polling on the president, new Russia revelations, and this -- yet another lawmaker, this time Republican Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona stepping down as the House Ethics Committee launches a probe into possible sexual harassment.

It is happening just hours after Democratic Senator Al Franken announced his resignation. There's always Democrat John Conyers stepping down in recent days. And, of course, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore and his accusers with a special election there now five days away.

Now, if all this feels like what the accuser of yet another congressman, Republican Blake Farenthold, calls a reckoning, it's hard to argue. But it does raises the question, a reckoning for whom?

In his resignation speech to Senate today, which critics have noticed did not admit to any wrongdoing, Senator Al Franken called attention to what he seems to see as a double standard.


SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I'm leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.


COOPER: Well, he's talking obviously about President Trump and candidate Moore.

Senator Franken spoke today after at least 32 Democratic senators called for his departure and whatever you think of the senator's contrition or lack of it or any of the facts of the complaints against him, he raises a point we'll be talking about tonight, which carries a fair share of weight, giving the upcoming Alabama election.

Are Republicans turning a blind eye to their potential Senate colleague and the president of the United States?

Today, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the voters have already decided about the president, though we have some new polling showing his popularity at an all time low.

As for Roy Moore, listen.


REPORTER: We've seen Democrats forcefully call for John Conyers' resignation, Al Franken's resignation, which happened today. Do Republicans and does this president risk losing their moral authority on this issue, which is a huge issue right now, by endorsing a candidate like Roy Moore, which has now been backed by the RNC, as well?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I've addressed this in depth. We think that the allegations are troubling and that ultimately this is something that the people of Alabama should decide.

REPORTER: Why not call for him to drop out of the race or a write-in campaign? Is the president failing to lead --

SANDERS: Hey, Kristen, I'm going to move around here.


COOPER: So, the president endorses Moore. He'll be speaking tomorrow in Pensacola, Florida, and while it's not being billed as a campaign rally, Pensacola TV as seen by plenty of Alabamians.

And, of course, the Republican National Committee is endorsing Moore by pumping dollars into his campaign, as his first, as you know, the RNC suspended their support for Moore when the allegations first came to light. But they got back behind Moore soon after the president got off the sidelines and endorsed him.

Since that happened Monday night, we've been asking someone from the RNC to come on the program. They've declined each day. So, we sent Randi Kaye to see if she could get them to talk. And she joins us now from Washington.

So, did they talk?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did, Anderson, eventually. We were trying to track down her in Washington, Ronna McDaniel, who is the chair of the RNC. And we tried several locations. She is a tough woman to nail down.

So, we finally caught up with her in front of the office for the RNC. And I can tell you that she right away said that they could only answer one question, that she was short on time. She had flown in from Michigan early this morning to have a meeting with president at White House. We don't know what was said at that meeting.

So, we were told once again, short on time, only one question. Well, of course, as you can imagine, we had a whole lot more than just one question for her. But this is how the conversation went.


KAYE: So, when it comes to what happened in Alabama, who do you believe? Do you believe Roy Moore or do you believe the women who have come out (INAUDIBLE)

RONNA MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIRWOMAN: Well, we've said all along that these allegations are incredibly disturbing, that if they were proven true that the candidate would be unfit to serve in office.

But it's up to the voters of Alabama right now. This is democracy. They're going to see this play out. They get to make that decision. It's not up to me.

And president has said we want to keep this seat Republican. The RNC is political arm of the White House and we want to support the president's agenda.

KAYE: Can I just follow up because we need to get an answer real quick (ph). What you believe or who you believe?

MCDANIEL: It's not up to me. It's up to the voters of Alabama. Ultimately, they're going to have to make that decision next Tuesday. This is something that's getting a lot of media. They're going to have to go into that booth to make a decision as to who's best to represent them.

KAYE: Is that why the RNC decided to support Roy Moore again and funding his (INAUDIBLE)?

MCDANIEL: This is democracy. The president has indicated he wants to keep the seat Republican. And we're going to be -- we're the political arm of the White House. So, we're going to make sure the president is able to accomplish his goal. Thank you so much.


KAYE: And once again, Anderson, now, Ronna McDaniel has said that the Alabama voters are going to be the judge and jury of Roy Moore. She didn't really expand on that today.

And one other thing we noticed that she didn't mention today is the candidate's name.

[20:05:03] In that conversation, she referred to Roy Moore as the candidate. She never actually said his name, which we thought was interesting.

We were also able to confirm just how much funding the RNC, the national RNC, has sent to Roy Moore and his campaign. Two payments, one of $50,000, Anderson, and one of $120,000, so a total of $170,000 from RNC, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Randi Kaye, thanks for that.

Three views now from Stuart Stevens, also Amanda Carpenter and Ed Martin. Stewart, have the Republicans lost the moral high ground on sexual

assaults and harassment to the Democrats? I mean, do you think President Trump's 32 percent approval rating is any kind of reflection of that?

STUART STEVENS, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, you know, there was a lot of hope that when Donald Trump was elected president that he would change, he would grow into the office and he would evolve. But his support of Roy Moore would indicate that's just not happening on this level.

In my ways, Donald Trump was a gateway drug to Roy Moore. He never effectively dealt with accusations against him, and if that's acceptable with Republicans enough to elect him, what's the logical thing that you end up with, Roy Moore, who is accused of being a child predator.

COOPER: Amanda, I mean, I know you think the Democrats are putting forward a very public zero tolerance approach to this issue. How would you label the Republican Party's approach?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, CONSERVATIVEREVIEW.COM: Well, the Republican Party approach -- listen, if moral high ground won elections, Donald Trump wouldn't be president. This alone is not going to do it for the Democrats.

That said, this is about energizing and motivating that hard core Democratic base of Democratic women who are upset and angry over sexual abuse and harassment issues. So, I think this is pretty smart. But you know, I don't see a lot of reaction from Republicans. Their point of view at this point is like, well, you know, if Al Franken doesn't think he's fit for office, then go ahead and resign. If anyone else doesn't think they're fit for office, go ahead and resign.

But Donald Trump will never say that.

COOPER: So, Stuart, is the message then, just, deny everything and then just keep moving forward? I mean, because that --

STEVENS: Well, think about it. Is that -- what kind of message does that send to our kids? Is that what teachers teach students to do? Is that what coaches teach their athletes to do? To just deny everything in order to make it OK.

ED MARTIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: That's not the message, though.

STEVENS: It's the exact opposite -- I really don't see this as a political issue. I see it as a civil society and a decency issue.

MARTIN: Right.

STEVENS: I mean, the fabric of civil society is held together by very thin and fragile threads. And one of them is decency and one of them is rule of law. And in the case of Roy Moore, you have someone by every standard has violated the decency standard. I mean, he's admitted to trying to date 16-year-old girls in his 30s. That's a creepy thing.

People say, well, it's just Alabama -- listen, I grew up in Mississippi, and every father I knew, if he saw a guy like Roy Moore in his 30s trying to date his 16-year-old daughter, they would have had a date with a baseball bat. And this idea that somehow that Roy Moore is an outsider, Roy Moore's been running for office or holding office since 1982.



MARTIN: The issues never came up.

STEVENS: Listen, I ran -- I can tell you why it never came up. I did the campaign when Governor Riley ran against Roy Moore and we beat him two to one. The reason this didn't come up is because Roy Moore was out there saying such crazy stuff that you didn't need to look into his background.

MARTIN: That doesn't pass the smell test.

STEVENS: That is the case.


STEVENS: It's why he lost -- it's why he lost two to one.

COOPER: Right. I mean, Ed, Roy Moore was twice removed as chief justice in Alabama. The second time, a -- basically, the court in Alabama, a number of judges unanimously believed that he was being misleading, not credible, and essentially lying. So, if his credibility has already been questioned by sitting Alabama justices, which, I don't really think are representatives of, like, a left wing fringe --

MARTIN: No. Well, Anderson --

COOPER: Does that raise any questions for you about his credibility?

MARTIN: Look, but we have lots of candidates that have credibility issues, right? We have lots of people that have lied. John McCain won re-election a number of times after he said he made a mistake in savings and loan.

Look, if you want to get to the point of it, it's very important -- Roy Moore has run for decades on a position in terms of judges that I agree with. And if that's your fight, yes, he got thrown out by other judges who didn't like his position, but that's a fight --

COOPER: For violating state and federal regulations.

MARTIN: Yes, but that was regulated by the same people he was disagreeing with. And he was re-elected. The people of Alabama --

COOPER: He was re-elected and tossed out again because he was leading -- he told probate justices in Alabama not to obey the Supreme Court ruling.

MARTIN: But, Anderson, you and I both know that was a substantive disagreement. They may have said that they didn't agree --

COOPER: But being misleading, manipulative --

MARTIN: No, no --

COOPER: -- and filing, you know, sort of misleading on your own position, essentially lying, that's not just a difference on beliefs. That's, you know, what's right and what's wrong.

[20:10:00] MARTIN: I guess, the debate is about --


STEVENS: Can I just raise one other point --

COOPER: Go ahead, Stuart.

MARTIN: Go ahead, Stuart.

STEVENS: Can I just raise one other point about Roy Moore? Lost in all of this sort of pyrotechnical stuff about the sexual allegations and the fact that he was tossed off the bench twice, you know, Roy Moore absolutely does not believe in the Constitution, because he believes in a religious test to hold office.

MARTIN: (INAUDIBLE) Stewart, come on.

STEVENS: Now, that is specifically prohibited by the Constitution. He has said that a Muslim should not hold office in Congress. That's a fact, Ed. He said that.

And now, there are a lot of people that agree with him. I understand that. But it is not what the United States Constitution says.


COOPER: Ed, do you think it's appropriate -- do you think a Muslim should be able to hold office?

MARTIN: Sure, sure. If that's his position, I never heard him say it, but, look, Stuart, you know, elections are about --


COOPER: But wait a minute. How can you say you never heard him say it? He's on record saying that. He said the only thing the Islamic faith has ever contributed to the United States is 9/11.

He's on record saying that Keith Ellison should not be able to put his hand on a Koran to swear into Congress, that Muslims shouldn't be in Capitol Hill.

MARTIN: Look, I don't think I knew all those quotes, but I'll just say this -- that's why we have elections. And if the people of Alabama reject that, are you saying that we get to vet who gets to run for office?

We can all say over and over, we don't like Roy Moore, just like I can say over and over I don't like Ted Kennedy or I don't like whoever. But they get -- the people get to vote on this. And it's not -- nothing in our Constitution says that you can't run for office and have views --

COOPER: Sure, you can be a bigot and you can get elected to Congress.

MARTIN: Right.

COOPER: It's just a question of whether you admit the person is a bigot or not.

MARTIN: Well, my job, you're saying the Republican Party has a zero tolerance on sexual harassment, or whatever the question was earlier. And what I'm saying is, you guys think that it's okay to pile on six weeks before an election, Stuart, and claim that you know this guy's heart and the truth about him --

CARPENTER: Let me jump in here.

MARTIN: -- and I'm saying, let's go to the election, and if you want to have an ethics committee hearing and put up members of the public, accusing members of the Senate of conduct, giddy up. Let's line up all the members --

CARPENTER: This is the highest views of the U.S. Senate.

MARTIN: Right.

CARPENTER: The second-worst thing about the Alabama election, aside from, you know, all the history that Roy Moore has, is the fact that all his statements and crazy thoughts have not seen the light of day, because he did say those things. And he even worse, he refuses to show his face and he answer questions about that.

Instead, he has this embarrassing spokeswoman, who was on the air last night, who doesn't have any remote idea of how to answer these questions. Roy Moore believes this stuff. And if you believe it, brother, get on TV and make your case.


CARPENTER: Because I think people should hear it now so we know it's coming, because next it's going to be on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

COOPER: We got to leave it there. Stuart Stevens, Amanda Carpenter, Ed Martin, thank you very much.


MARTIN: Thanks, Anderson. COOPER: Much more ahead on Roy Moore's views, including a newly

uncovered statement from Moore in the campaign trail, saying that even though slavery was wrong, the last time America was great, was when African-Americans were slaves.

Later, more breaking news. These are live pictures of the wildfires consuming southern California. Or actually these are just in, I should say, not live. The situation is evolving with every shift in the powerful winds. We'll have an update from the scene ahead.


[20:16:50] COOPER: With five days to go until the special Senate election in Alabama, and the race between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore very close in the polls, what is still unknown how Alabamians will react in the voting booth to the claims of sexual abuse, and in one case, alleged sexual assault against Mr. Moore.

As you saw at the top of the program, the Republican National Committee is backing Moore with a new infusion of cash. The president, of course, is all-in, as well. And the overriding theme for many top Republicans is that this is up to the people of Alabama to decide.

We had Mr. Moore's spokeswoman Janet Porter on the program last night. I asked her about the allegations made by a number of women, which Mr. Moore and others have attributed to a conspiracy involving a whole bunch of different groups, different times, including one time or another, "The Washington Post", what they call a lynch mob media, George Soros, the DNC, Mitch McConnell, mainstream Republicans, radical homosexuals, transgendered groups and criminals. They've always offered really no evidence directly to back up those claims, but much of the focus of my interview last night was other statements that Roy Moore has made over the years, all public statements on the record.

He hasn't repeated them in awhile, so, I thought it would make sense to ask his spokeswoman if Mr. Moore still stands by those statements. These weren't trick questions. Moore is on the record as I said on all of this, and as you'll see in just a moment.

But, first, though, I want to play some of the key moments from my interview with Janet Porter last night. We did edit it for time, while trying to preserve the context. The whole thing is online. You can see. Take a look.


COOPER: Does Judge Moore still believe that homosexual conduct should be illegal and that homosexuality is still the same thing as bestiality?

JANET PORTER, ROY MOORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: Well, I think that what Judge Roy Moore, and I can't answer that question --

COOPER: You don't know that? Because that's what he said in the past.

PORTER: I don't have that answer.

COOPER: Can you get back to us on that one?

PORTER: But I can tell you what he does believe regarding that issue. And regarding that issue, if you want to talk about making sure we don't have sexual predators --

COOPER: Does he still believe that 9/11 may have happened because, quote, we've distanced ourselves from god, because he said that in the past? Does he still believe that?

PORTER: You know, this is -- this is the thing. A lot of people talk about God and how they're Christians, in fact, if you look at the commercials of Roy Moore's opponent, he's telling everybody what a great Christian he is and how he defends --

COOPER: You don't know the answer about 9/11, either?

PORTER: I don't know the answer to 9/11, no, I'm sorry.

COOPER: Third question. Does he still believe in American citizen who is a Muslim should not be able to serve in Congress?

PORTER: I think that what he's getting at there is that we believe in the rule of law by the Constitution, not Sharia law and I think that's really the bottom line, at what we're looking at.

COOPER: Right. He said that Keith Ellison should not be allowed to swear on the Koran.

PORTER: He'll lose his job if he has to, to stand for that Constitution.

COOPER: You don't know the answer to that, either. Does he still believe that Keith Ellison shouldn't be allowed to swear on the Koran?


PORTER: And so, if you want a guy that's for women's rights, Anderson, if you want somebody who's for women's right, then you need to run Judge Roy Moore.

COOPER: I get, you don't want to answer these questions. Does he still believe that the U.S. has become the focus of evil in the world because the U.S. promotes things, in his words, like same sex marriage?

PORTER: You know, you can ridicule biblical beliefs if you want --

COOPER: I'm still wondering, does he still believe that the U.S. is the focus of evil in the modern world? Because that's a pretty bold statement.

PORTER: He has stood for the Constitution and that's really what it's all about.


COOPER: We're certainly hoping she gets back to us with answers on those, just to clarify his positions.

Just in order -- the questions were, does Roy Moore still believe homosexual conduct, meaning gay and lesbian people loving each other and expressing that love, should be illegal?

[20:20:05] And does he still equate homosexuality to bestiality?

The other question was, does he still believe 9/11 may have happened because we have distanced ourselves from God, as he said in the past? Does he still believe an American who's a Muslim should not be allowed to serve in Congress or swear an oath on a Koran? And does he still believe this country has become a focus of evil in the world because of things like marriage equality, all of which he said in the past?

Now, keeping them honest, from those answers last night, we don't know. But just in case you think the questions themselves were somehow beyond the pale or made up, I just want to show you Roy Moore's exact statements on all of those items in order. First, here he is on tape, equating homosexuality to bestiality, as well as him suggesting 9/11 was the fault of Americans.


ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Because it's done behind closed doors. It can still be prohibited by state law. Do you know that bestiality, the relationship between man and beast, is prohibited in every state?

Because you've despised his word and trust in perverseness and oppression, and say, thereon, therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in the high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instance. Sounds a little bit like the Pentagon, whose breaking came suddenly at an instance, doesn't it?


COOPER: Those are the first two items. About Muslims, he said, quote, the only thing I know, Islam has contributed to America's 9/11 and said to "World Net Daily" about Congressman Keith Ellison taking the oath on a Koran, quote: In 1943, we would have never allowed a member of Congress to take their oath on "Mein Kampf", or someone in the 1950s to swear allegiance to the communist manifesto. Congress has the authority and should act to prohibit Ellison from taking the congressional oath today.

Finally, he used an old President Ronald Reagan about the Soviet Union to compare it to America today. That is on tape.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said that Russia was the focus of evil in the modern world.

MOORE: Could say that very well about America, couldn't you?


MOORE: Well, we promote a lot of bad things, you know?


MOORE: Same sex marriage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the very argument that Vladimir Putin makes.

MOORE: Well, then maybe Putin is right, maybe he's more akin to me than I know.


COOPER: Roy Moore's views over the years. And again, when asked about them, if he still stands by all the statements, his spokeswoman either wouldn't or couldn't say, if he stands by them. And as you heard, she mainly shifted the subject.

Now, CNN's KFILE uncovered an additional statement from Mr. Moore's past.


MOORE: We have kids driving by, shooting each other, that they don't even know each other. They're acting like animals, because we've taught them they come from animals.


COOPER: That's from 1997, and at a rally back in September, in Florence, Alabama, when asked by an African-American about the last time he thought the country was great, he harkened back to the days of slavery.

Here's the quote, as reported in "The Los Angeles Times", "Vox" and elsewhere, quote: I think it was great at the time when families were united. Even though we had slavery, they cared for one another.

He added: our families were strong, our country had a direction.

These are just some of Roy Moore's beliefs. Not shy about stating them, which makes it so puzzling that his spokeswoman cannot.

Lots to talk about. Joining us now is Bill Britt, he's editor-in- chief of "The Alabama Political Reporter". He has an interview coming out Sunday with Mr. Moore.

Bill, I'm wondering, does Roy Moore, on the campaign trail, repeat some of the things he has said in the past? Because it seems like his spokesperson doesn't really want to talk about them or was unaware of some of them, I'm wondering, are they still in his sort of stump speech at all or are these just random things he's said over the years that he doesn't continue to talk about?


You know, here in the South, we generally -- we will take our crazy people down and put them in the parlor or put them on the front porch. We rarely put them on television.

And look, Roy Moore is a very polarizing figure. I couldn't speak for what Roy Moore does. Does he say things that are outrageous to most of us? Absolutely. But there are people in Alabama, and, I would dare say, in the United States, that agree with Roy Moore.

While most do not, there is a hard core constituency that believes what he believes.

COOPER: As someone who knows Alabama politics, do you think he's going to win? Because, you know, polls say it's close, but seems like maybe just as we saw in the national election, a lot of people who may not say they're going to vote for Roy Moore, but will. Do you think he'll win?

BRITT: Well, I mean, what we're seeing on the ground here is similar to what you're seeing in New York and D.C., he's moving ahead in the polls. You know, when we speak to people privately, there's strong support for Roy Moore.

So, I would not be surprised. I would be surprised if Doug Jones won. I wouldn't be surprised if Roy Moore won.

COOPER: Do you think -- do you think any of these -- I mean, if you look at poll numbers, purely, it seems like since these allegations by these number of women have come forward, his numbers have gone down.

[20:25:10] You know, you say you still think he's going to win, but it's closer probably than it would ordinarily be for a Democratic candidate in the state of Alabama.

Do you think these allegations have hurt him or do you think it's kind of hardened his support among his hardcore base supporters?

BRITT: Well, when we talk to Republicans throughout the state, there are many Republicans that are just going to stay home. They're not going to vote for Roy Moore and they're not going to vote for Doug Jones. And these are private decisions, they're not going to come out and say that openly, but that's the way the Republicans that we've talked to feel.

However, there's, again, a constituency that doesn't trust the media, doesn't trust these reports, and they're going to vote for Roy Moore.

COOPER: It's interesting. So, you're hearing, and again, people not making a big deal of it, but from Republicans who just sort of decided to sit this one out? BRITT: Absolutely. I mean, you know, not everybody in the Republican

Party is a Roy Moore fan, not even here in Alabama. I mean, Roy is always -- Roy Moore, Judge Moore, has always been a more fringe candidate in that he rejects modernity. He rejects the society that he sees around him. And it threatens him and it threatens a lot of people.

And that's what we hear. I mean, I dare not speak for Roy Moore or anybody else, but from what we hear from people, you know, they -- they do agree with him on some social issues. But the vast majority, I think, of Republicans, you know, they find some of this reprehensible -- I mean, the statements.


Bill Britt, I appreciate your expertise on Alabama politics, and we'll see what happens. We'll continue to check in with you. And wish you the best. Thank you.

Again, if you want to see my interview with Janet Porter, you can find it at

Coming up next, previously undisclosed e-mails revealed today from Donald Trump Jr. that deal with that now infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians.

And the California wildfires, more homes burned. The winds fueling the fire only getting stronger tonight. More ahead.


[20:31:33] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Is breaking news tonight on the Russia probe. Previously undisclosed e-mails show follow-up after the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, follow-up that Donald Trump Jr. said never happened. CNN's Jim Sciutto joins us now with more details.

So what are these e-mail shows?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, these e-mails contradict what has been the Trump campaign and administration story line about this meeting since it broke. One it was one-off and two that the subject of the meeting was entirely about Russian adoptions. These e-mails contradict that. I'll give you an example, one e-mail on June 14th, 2016, five days after the Trump Tower meeting between the man who set up that meeting and one of the Russians who was there, these happens to be I should say the day that news broke that Russia had hacked DNC e-mails.

So in one of this e-mail, the man who brokered this meeting forwards a CNN story about the Russian breach of DNC e-mails to two of the Russians involved in this meeting and says, isn't this eerily weird and I'm quoting there, in light of what we talked about five days earlier?

Now that's interesting on a number of levels, one there was follow-up between participants in that meeting, two it also raises hard questions about what the subject of the meeting actually was? What came up? Because we know leading up to the meeting there was talk on Russians providing dirt on Hillary Clinton and now you have e-mail traffic after the meeting that seems to reference exactly that.

COOPER: There -- this is an e-mail traffic though between Goldstone and Donald Trump Jr. correct?

SCIUTTO: No Goldstone -- Rob Goldstone, I should identify and he's a British publicist who helped brokers broke with the meeting, is between him and one of the Russians who was in that room, gentleman named Ike Kavelzade and also Emin Agalarov who was another one of the Russians who helped broker the meeting. It's not between him and --


SCIUTTO: -- Donald Trump Jr. But discussing what was discussed in that meeting were Donald Trump Jr. was among those present there including Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner as well.

COOPER: There is separate e-mail that mentioned something that Russia's version of Facebook or.

SCIUTTO: That's right. Numerous e-mails actually again between Rob Goldstone, the publicist who helped broker the Trump Tower meeting and Dan Scavino who at the time was with the Trump campaign. His now the social media director for the Trump White House.

And in these Rob -- in the series of e-mails I should say, Rob Goldstone is pitching him saying that we should really get a page for Donald Trump Sr. the candidate on VK which is Russia's Facebook in effect. And we're also told that the idea came out in part from that meeting in Trump Tower. So, you know, the significance of it is not clear. We know the congressional investigators looking into it, but again it raises those questions. One, it was clearly follow-up to the Trump Tower meeting and it raises questions about what was the actual subject of discussion when all those parties were seating down in Trump Tower.


SCIUTTO: Congressional investigators looking into it, there sure to be asking Rob Goldstone about it when he is question before this committees as soon as next week.

COOPER: All right Jim Sciutto, appreciate it --

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

COOPER: -- thank you very much. On the other hand CNN senior legal analyst and former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara who President Trump fired in less than three months into his presidency.

Not a smoking gun or anything, but again another piece of the puzzle, it's also a reminder that we won't it really seen the tip of the iceberg just in 2terms of the e-mails around the Donald Trump Jr. meeting. We've only seen the e-mails that Donald Trump Jr. decided to put online under pressure.

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, though I think that's correct. I think the point that you're making is a fair one. We don't know that there was conversation between, you know, this publicist and Donald Trump Jr., but what is the case that the story keeps changing, there other dimensions to the story over time.

[20:35:02] But, you know, the fact that we're continuing to hear about information coming out the investigation little bit at a time, week after week, means -- and I think is a good thing, though we don't have any idea the scope of what Robert Mueller is looking at, the scope of what he has in possession and the scope of what he's going to have in the future.

COOPER: Because even in those e-mails that Donald Trump Jr. did release, it seemed to indicate Donald Trump Jr. wanted a phone conversation with one of the Agalarovs prior to having this meeting and even send them his telephone number unclear whether that phone call ever took place. But theoretical that could be something that Mueller would have access to as well.

BHARARA: Yes, I think so. But, you know, it points up to the issue of making sure in any kind of investigation if you're potentially a target, to get a story right and get the story put out in its full and proper way in the first instance. So if that turns out at the Donald Trump Jr. as I believed he said, there was no follow-up, I didn't do anything with the follow-up after that meeting. So if that was useless and it turns out that there's e-mail traffic or texting traffic to him and another people with respect to a follow-up, that doesn't help him.

COOPER: During yesterdays here in Capitol Hill behind close doors, Donald Trump Jr. said that he could not discuss conversations he had with his father, that they were protect, he was claiming attorney/client privilege because there were attorneys in the room. Have you ever heard of attorney/client privilege being extended to just because there were attorneys in the room?

BHARARA: You know, it depends on the circumstance. But as a general matter there's no attorney/client privilege between -- there's a father and son privilege and attorney/client privilege. And sometimes it's the case if there's a joint defense agreement between and amongst multiple people for example at a company. And there is a privileged conversation between the lawyer and those other non-lawyers in connection with the provision of advice, I guess that's possible.

But my understanding is he's invoking something far more broad than that and there's, you know, there's an attorney/client, privilege, there's a, you know, (INAUDIBLE) privilege, there's a spousal privilege, there's a doctor/patient privilege, but there's no such as a father/son privilege.

COOPER: If two people are talking just in front of a priest, you can't claim depended (ph).

BHARARA: No, look. There have been cases this litigated (ph) for a long time, because sometimes people in order to shield their conversations will plot a lawyer in the corner like a plant -- like a potted plant to try to give the aura of their being an attorney/client privilege issue there. The parties have to work that out and the investigators have to work that out. But simply be having a person who has a law degree sitting at table while two other people having conversation -- the mobsters used to do this all the time. I'm not saying these folks are mobsters. But you want to shield as much as you can and you put it, you know, he cc a lawyer in an e-mail or bring a lawyer and you have them to sit at meeting, that by itself does not shield.

COOPER: So what can House investigators or Robert Mueller, what can you do to compel some -- I know somebody's claiming attorney/client privilege and it doesn't really hold up? How do you force them to talk?

BHARARA: So presumably the Muller team will talk to Donald Trump Jr., they'll ask him questions, he'll invoke some privilege, the team will think that that's ludicrous or fibrinous and not with merit and then they'll go to the court. They have a court process and they can compel him to talk about it, and if he doesn't, he could potentially be held in contempt. There are various remedies you can have. But I think bob Mueller and his team that has, you know, proceedings in front of a court and has a grand jury in place has a lot more access to compulsory process than the Congress does.

COOPER: Before the president, you know, (INAUDIBLE) say that there's no collusion regards to Russia Congress matter and she have said after the hearing with Donald Trump Jr., they taking self-serving statements from administration at face value is not what they do. I just want to show this timeline to our viewers. You know, the Papadopoulos meeting, then Trump Tower meeting and the toning of Wikileaks release. And we know have this e-mails follow-up about that Trump Tower meeting, it really raises a lot of question. I mean the more pieces of the puzzle, the more questions there are.

BHARARA: Yes, I mean that's how it works. Investigation unfolds, information comes out, people get charged, some people plead guilty. There's a hint of things to come. But we don't know what all those things will be. But the important point I think that, the one important point is I think Adam Schiff was making is, you can't rely on the denials made by people who are under investigation.

I know that the president has said in a couple vacations, you know, that Vladimir Putin denies something vehemently and so I take him at his word. If prosecutors and investigators over the course of time walked away when target said I didn't do it, we would have massive unemployment in the ranks of people who investigators and the jails would be empty. Because that's not how it works. And investigators have to proceed, have to look at things and not just take the word of the people who were saying they did nothing wrong.

COOPER: And supporters of the president say well look, nothing has come up yet, I mean, you know, all this time, all this money spenders, no evidence of collusion. It's easy to say that, it is still an act of investigation. There may not be any collusion. BHARARA: It's only a few months and then the course of a few months, you know, in my experience it takes a long time to put together cases even if they involve things like obstruction. They involve things like money laundering. And you've got four people charged, two people have pled guilty. Those people that appears are going to be in the position to testify against other folks.

[20:40:01] So there's a lot yet to come. And I don't know how -- I understand there's a self-interested reason to say nothing has been found, shut it down. But I think the Mueller team has a long way to go and we're going to hear lot more things in the coming weeks and months.

COOPER: Preet Bharara, appreciate it, thanks very much.

Coming up, Republican Congressman Trent Franks announces he will resign from Congress after the House Ethics Committee said it would investigate sexual harassment allegations against him. The latest on that, that's happening today.

And we'll hear from Representative Kathleen Rice who said both parties have been slow to address the issue.


COOPER: Late today another member of Congress announced he is resigning, Arizona Republican Representative Trent Franks said in statement that he'll leave at the end of January, that was after House Ethics Committee said would investigate Franks to determine if he engaged in sexual harassment or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment.

At this point the only other thing we have to go by is Franks' statement, in it he acknowledges that he discussed fertility issues and surrogacy with two female staffers but denied ever trying to have sexual contact with any member of his staff. We don't know yet if there is more to it than that or what it might be. Also tonight, the House Ethics Committee says it received information over the last two weeks about Representative Blake Farenthold, he will continue that investigation. He settled the sexual harassment complain by an aide in 2014.

As we reported earlier today, Senator Al Franken announced his resignation and earlier this week Congressman John Conyers announced his retirement. Representative Kathleen Rice of New York released a statement yesterday and saying, men who abused their positions of power need to face consequences, that includes her Democratic colleagues. I spoke with Representative Rice earlier.


COOPER: Congresswoman, to of Senator Franken's accusers said they were disappointed by his speech today because he cast doubt on for as their allegations, also, you know, he didn't apologize any of the accusers. Do you think he went far enough today? REP. KATHLEEN RICE, (D) NEW YORK: I think for his accusers, he went far enough and that he's no longer going to be a United States senator. But this is part of the problem Anderson with the issue. And this is why women don't like to come forward, becomes if he said/she said and usually in those circumstances that he wins out. And we just can't have that any more. And my hope is that once the American public sees that this men who are harassing women and to varying degrees are being held accountable and if there is professional accountability there, hopefully more women are going to come forward and feel safe to tell their stories.

[20:45:14] COOPER: There certainly many Democrats who believe or certainly hope that Democrats have the moral high ground they call for Franken's resignation. On the Republican side, President Trump, the RNC and some Congressional Republicans are fully supporting Roy Moore. I'm wondering what your take is on that, because just recently I know you said, "None of us have clean hands when it comes to this issue."

RICE: Because, both parties were slow to address the seriousness of this issue. I spoke out because I felt that it was important that the American public see that just because you're a congressman or senator or congresswoman or a senator, doesn't mean you're going to be treated any differently than people in the private sector.

Now, there a certain -- does anyone really expect Donald Trump, the president of the United States to be critical of Roy Moore? He had no choice but to say I support him. The reason he gave was because he's rather see a Republican than a Democrat, but how could he possibly have been objectively critical of Roy Moore given what the president himself has been heard on tape saying about the way he treated women. And to be honest with you I think what we need now is a little bit of courage and report (ph) of Republican leadership here from Paul Ryan on down. There are members -- at least Blake Farenthold for one who was one of the congressman who paid out $84,000 in taxpayer money to one of his victims of harassment. A woman who suffered severe professional consequences, and he's still here. Only one Republican congresswoman, a woman by the way I will add Barbara Comstock, has called for him to step aside.

So, look Congress has a whole -- is not going to have clean hands in this issue, unless we show that we're taking it seriously.

COOPER: I spoke to Farenthold's accuser Lauren Greene on Monday night, and was frankly, you know, he knew when she came forward that and she was told that it was going to be career suicide and she really hasn't been able to work in Washington again. She thinks what's going on right now is more than a moment, she calls it reckoning. Do you think that's what's happening?

RICE: I couldn't agree with her more. It is not a moment, it is a time for a all of us to address the issue not as Republicans and not as Democrats but as Americans. This is discussion that has been long overdue I think in American discourse and now that we're getting more and more women in the workplace. My hope is that the way that we treat this seriously once we begin to treat it seriously here on Congress, we're going to have more women feel comfortable coming forward so we have an honest conversation about this issue in this country.

COOPER: CNN's reporting that your Republican colleague Arizona Congressman Trent Franks is resigning. I wonder what your reaction is to that.

RICE: I'm going to -- I'm waiting like everyone else to see exactly what the facts are there. But, you know, I don't think the American public is going to be too surprised if there are more revelations about people in Washington as there will continue to be across the country in various businesses. You know, the reason why it's so important for us to have a national conversation about this now Anderson, is we can talk about all the famous people in Hollywood or the politicians in Washington. But how many women, and men, are there across this country in everyday life, everyday people who are being harassed in the workplace, who have to go every day to a hostile workplace? And they have no recourse and no voice. That has got to stop. And that's the beginning -- this is what I hope is going to be the beginning of a national conversation to address everyone who has been victimized by this.

COOPER: Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, appreciate your time. Thank you.

RICE: Thank you.


COOPER: Well coming up, the latest on California wildfires. And incredible moments by the side of a flaming highway and man tries to save a rabbit that ran into the fire.


[20:52:56] COOPER: Wildfires in the California burned more than 100,000 acres so far. We're going to get a live update on the efforts. Take a look at the live pictures right now from San Diego. You just get a sense of the scope and the scale of some of these fires in the San Diego area. We do want to show you an incredible piece of video. Take a look at the bottom of your screen, you'll see a rabbit running toward the flames, watch what happens.

He was on the side of a highway in Ventura County near a (INAUDIBLE), a wild rabbit apparently darted across traffic into the burning scene, you see there. The man stop from the side of the road there agonizing help the rabbit which finally came out of the flames, he's carried to safety among the highway. Small compassion and made the damage and distraction.

Paul Vercammen joins us now with the latest on the fires. I understand they're making the air quality dangerous all up and down the coast.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Anderson they are. If you can look just a short moment ago, it looked like tiny little snowflakes, you might even be able to get a sense for these little embers and the ash that's raining down. Especially in Ventura County and into Santa Barbara County, massive school and business closures throughout the county, because the air quality is just absolutely horrific, and I'm standing right on the county line right now. B the way, Anderson, 96,000 acres burned on the Thompson -- excuse me Thomas fire in Ventura County alone.

COOPER: Have authorities been able to hold the fire line where you are?

VERCAMMEN: They have. And let me give you a good example of just how well they've held the line. If you look in that canyon, yes, it looks ominous, but I can tell you right now, those are actually backfires, some of this original fire, but a lot those are backfires. They're using a inflammatory called drip torch as well as something that looks like a road flair, and maybe while we're on the air but you'll see it light up and they are literarily throwing into the canyon.

You can't tell because it's dark, but in front of us is a farmer's orchard. And this is the extreme northwest part of the fire, burning near the city of Carpinteria, that's the next city. Carpinteria is not threaten right now, let's not be alarmist, there are some mandatory evacuations in southwest Carpinteria as a precaution.

[20:55:21] But right now they tied all this in as the term the firefighters like to use. And there's literally in the dark, you can't see him, but there's a California Department of Fire Engineer and expert who's calling in on the radio and telling him, set this fire here. Throw this flair there. Go ahead and get that drip torch and they're doing it with remarkable skill and they also used a bulldozer and hand crews to build fire line.

So this is the extreme as I said northwest corner, it was a pivotal part of this fire line. It's much like a military operation Anderson and they seal this off for now, and it's looking good, cross your fingers, though, and hope that those just menacing winds don't come whipping up again, because seems like you and I are talking and we go off the air. And then six, seven hours later, the next thing you know, those winds start whipping through.

COOPER: Yes, just a lot of folks working incredibly hard as now. Paul Vercammen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, two members of Congress announced the resignation today. First, Senator Al Franken, now Republican Congressman Trent Franks says he'll resign at the end of January after the House Ethics Committee said it would investigate allegations against him. I have the latest on all of that when we come back.