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Sen. Franken, Rep. Franks Announce Resignation; New Pew Poll: Pres. Trump's Approval Rating At 32%; RNC Breaks Silence On Support For Roy Moore; CNN Exclusive: Undisclosed Emails Show Follow-Up After Trump Jr. Meeting With Russians At Trump Tower; New Fires Burning In California. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 7, 2017 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight two lawmakers have announced their resignations from Congress amid sexual harassment allegations and investigation. One senator, one congressman, one Democrat, one Republican.

Senator Al Franken announced his resignation on the Senate floor earlier today. Then this evening, Republican Congressman Trent Franks put out a statement saying he'll also be leaving Congress, the sexual harassment scandal that is whipping through government, doesn't seem to be affecting some other men who have been accused at least not enough to resign as those lawmakers have, and Alabama, of course, Roy Moore has shown he has no intention of dropping out of the Senate race. And of course there's the president of the United States who also, as you know, has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women. He's called them liars.

Tonight President Trump's approval rating is down to 32 percent according to recent polling. Sunlen Serfaty joins me with the latest. What more do we know, first of all, about the reason Congressman Franks is stepping down?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it's very clear that we still have a lot left to learn. What made him -- make the decision to step down -- any potential misconduct of making that decision, first and foremost, this congressman did released a lengthy statement just a few hours ago here, and he really tries to explain that he believes that this focuses around a conversation that he had with at least two female staffers in his office. A conversation he says was about his infertility issues with his wife. About surrogacy as well, and he doesn't deny wrongdoing, but he admits that he could have made them feel uncomfortable perhaps most notably is that very quickly after we saw a statement from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, far from a perfunctory statement. He came out and he said that the allegations are serious, requiring actions. He was made aware of what he called these credible allegations last week. He called for the Congressman in private to resign last week.

And also, we know that the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation for the stated intention to determine whether Franks had engaged in conduct, they say that constitutes sexual harassment. A reminder, though, of course a member can skirt ethics investigation by resigning. So eventually when he resigned tonight, the Ethics investigation comes to a halt.

COOPER: And Sunlen, Franken made his announcement on the floor of the Senate. Talk about how that was received, how that went.

SERFATY: Yes, it was interesting. Franken really defiant, I should say, in his speech at the Senate floor earlier this morning, and notable that he did not make an apology to any of the accusers, he did not apologize directly in anyway, and he seemed real steadfast that still defending himself against allegations. He said some of the allegations about me were just not true. Others, I remember very differently. And it was notable he used such a public platform, the floor of United State Senate, of course to make his resignation speech. But notable that in that speech he really took some jabs not only at President Trump, but potential Senate colleague, Roy Moore, that could be joining senators if he wins his race in Alabama.

He said, you know, "It's kind of ironic that we have a man who was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault," talking about President Trump there. "Also, a Senate candidate who has the full support of the Republican Party while preying on girls." That line not lost on a lot of people up here, Anderson.

COOPER: Has the date been set for when Franken will officially leave or when resign?

SERFATY: Yes, this is interesting. He said in a speech, I will be resigning in the next few weeks. I did follow up with his office and asked exactly what that meant. As of now, they have no date certain set for his official resignation. And they say between now and then, which we believe will happen in the next few weeks, he would continue to carry out his senatorial duties.

COOPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thanks very much.

Joining me on the panel tonight, Kirsten Powers, Paul Begala, Jack Kingston, April Ryan, Bryan Lanza, and Margaret Hoover.

Kirsten, I mean Democrats certainly now would like to think they're winning the moral high ground because of Al Franken and Conyers stepping down and being pushed by Democrats to do that. Can they claim that?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think they definitely can. And I know that -- the immediate talking point when the senators came out and started demanding that Franken resign, and it started with Ben Shapiro, who is a conservative journalist, saying, the Democrats are only doing this to, you know, get the moral high ground so they can attack Roy Moore.

In fact, and I hear a lot of people reporting it, I mean, repeating this, but there hasn't really been any reporting to show that. In fact, the reporting has shown something completely different including my conversations with people who were involved, and POLITICO did reporting that this grew out of women senators being very frustrated with these accusations and believing they were credible, and they were putting pressure on him to resign, and they were giving him time and space to do it.

So, the idea that this was just done for political reasons, I don't think is (INAUDIBLE) people want to keep repeating that, they need to report that out and get some real evidence that that's what happened, because I think this did grew out of a belief that he did this. I mean -- he resigned.

[21:04:59] COOPER: Paul, is it easier for Democrats to do this with Franken and Conyers, because those seats are not going to be taken over by Republicans, or is the Roy Moore seat could go to a Democrat?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, because the next time it could be a state where a Republican governor is -- or Republican could win this special election. Quite easily, Minnesota is not -- it's a democratic state. But it's not unheard of for Republicans to win there, or Independents like Jesse Ventura, who sort of Trump -- before Trump. It's an insult to Governor Ventura, but, you know, they sort of independent outside.

But, Kirsten may have a point actually before we came on. We're in an agreement. But how -- it's more important for the Democrats not just morally, but politically. Because Democrats Party women. So we -- look, the last seven presidential elections, seven. Democrats won the women's vote every single time, 7 out of 7 for 25 years, they've never lost women, you know how many times they won the men's vote? Once. Barack Obama carried men (ph) by one point. So there would have been one four year period in the last 25 when we had a Democratic president if it weren't for the women of America. So Democrats do always duty of loyalty and activism to women, because we're the party of women. I have to say, the woman to my right is one of (INAUDIBLE) -- so I did the research for you here.

COOPER: Congressman, I mean, do the Democrats the moral high ground here?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't. Because -- and I'd say this, I mean, this is the party that has the legacy of Barney Frank with Jerry Stubs, that has the legacy of Bill Clinton, and I say this, Republican Party doesn't have the high ground either. We're the party of Bob Packwood, Larry Craig, so I think both parties have members who have done things that we're all embarrassed by. I'd like to say when I was in leadership, we had to deal with Duke Cunningham, for example. What happens in these Congressional scandals, it's a collegiate body, and you like everybody, Democrat or Republican, behind the scenes, and then somebody comes to you and you know woman (ph), I say, listen, I'm innocent -- this is all partisan. And you kind of believe them.

And then you start looking at it, you look under the hood, well, well, well, that's not true. I think probably what happened with both of these gentlemen today is -- that the ethics committee looked under the hood and said, wait a minute, this isn't just seven women, there are a lot more, and it's going to be drip, drip, drip. It's not good for the institution. You can't withstand an onslaught that's about to happen. There's no way to keep it secret.

And I think that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have made practical decisions. I mean, Tim Murphy, not too long ago, Paul Ryan had to deal with it. I think he did the same thing today with Trent Franks.

POWERS: What about Donald Trump and Roy Moore?

KINGSTON: Well, I think that in terms of Roy Moore, he is denying it. And I think Donald Trump is --

POWERS: Al Franken denied it too.

KINGSTON: Well, he denied it -- there were picture and that was --

POWERS: -- last night with somebody else. There was one picture and then there are seven other accusations and he denied them and denied them again on the floor today. And the Democrats they still believe the women.

KINGSTON: You know, I think the Democratic Party has to make their decision on that, I think what's happening in Roy Moore, the Republican Party, some a little bit different just lightly that, OK, this happened 40 years ago, two of these women may be credible, two of them may not be.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: -- women, these were children, these were teenage --

KINGSTON: Well, actually there was one who was 14, I think. And the other one --


KINGSTON: But, but, but, but, but -- let me just --


KINGSTON: I'm just saying that in terms of the value, you can look at this, and you can respect this conclusion if somebody says, you know what, he was guilty, but I wasn't perfect either. That was 40 years ago. There have been no (INAUDIBLE) allegations --

COOPER: But it is interesting, -- it is interesting with --

KINGSTON: I'm saying --

COOPER: --Roy Moore, he's the only one who actually has a record of lying in court. I mean, judges kicked him out the second time as the chief justice in Alabama. Because he was -- in the unanimous opinion of the judges, misleading, misrepresenting what he had actually done. So it's interesting that people don't believe these women, but it's actually Moore who has a track record of not being believed in court. MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not even not being believed in court, how about his track record in public service and everything he said publicly in public life for the last 30 years. I mean this is a man who believes that 9/11 was caused because America had strayed away from Christianity. He believes that homosexuality should be illegal. He believes in the supremacy of the Bible over the constitution. He has a personal belief that President Obama was not born in the United States. I mean the list on Roy Moore --

COOPER: -- should not serve in the House.

HOOVER: I mean it's on and on. Muslims shouldn't serve in the House. That Islam is a false religion. I mean the things that he said over and over, so it's just shocking that this is the thing that gets us to a national scrutiny (ph) and becomes a national story. But, look, now it's of national relevance, right? And that's why -- I mean, all of these people are saying, why is this just coming out now? It's political. Well, actually it's political because this man is up for the United States Senate. This was a state issue before. This is a national issue and a national office and a moral issue at the national level now.

COOPER: Bryan, April, how do you see it?

[21:09:55] BRYAN LANZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, listen, Moore is going to have his judgment day, it's going to next Tuesday. You know, you're right. It is a national issue. It's issue that, you know, each month we hear more information. We still have those secret settlements that took place in the members -- those members of Congress that did the secret settlements. That's going to come out. I think the more information that comes out is a good process.

But how you deal with Moore, you know, the more the national sort of media, 2the national people get involved in this race, they're involved in the Alabama voter to vote yes for Moore.

So, I think we have to be careful with sort of misplayed our hand early on, on how to deal with this. I think McConnell sort of spent too much money, where it became a negative, and it allowed more to elevate himself beyond all these attacks. And now, you know, the voters of Alabama are going to have -- they're saying this probably going to grow (ph) a test a lot of the rest of voters in the country.

RYAN: I'm looking at this on several issues. This is a very, very serious issue. I talked to several Democrats on the Hill who were actually working with Conyers and they were really hurt. They were hurt because they said, this is serious because they had to do something. And they said, at that time, they said, you know, Conyers is going -- it said the rest have to go and now we're seeing it happening. And the trickle down effect is going to be enormous, and it's leading to the White House.

And then when we go to the issue of women, I'm thinking about my conversation with Ms. Gloria Steinem this week, as she talked about how she seeing a sea change when it comes to women, women being believed. Because think about years ago, Anita Hill, how she was treated when she was testifying about Clarence Thomas in this hearing for him to be confirmed as Supreme Court justice. But now, look, women are been taken seriously.

But I'm thinking about what you said about women, look at the women who voted overwhelmingly for Trump, 51 percent were married women, were married women, white married women. And this, and Gloria Steinem said something very interesting, and I'm thinking about this with Alabama, how married women, 51 percent of married women voted for -- white women, married white women, voted for Donald Trump, and she believes that they were actually, because they are socially and economically dependent on their husbands, maybe that's how it could go there as well. You know, so women will play into this.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. Coming up next Randi Kaye had some questions for the Republican Party chairwoman about what the party once again running chest (ph) the Moore campaign. Her exclusive answer is next.

And later, a follow-up to the Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and the Russians that the Trump campaign said did not happen. Now we know differently. We'll bring in the details in that ahead.


[21:15:04] COOPER: Just five days to go until the Alabama special Senate election with so many allegations swirling in, so many politicians, (INAUDIBLE) so many politicians circling the drain. Republican Roy Moore beset by allegations. Be at still in a close race with his Democratic opponent. He'll got a boost tomorrow from President Trump's visit to neighbor in Pensacola, Florida for rally that will be seen on Alabama T.V.

And of course there are Republican National Committees endorsing Moore but pumping dollars into his campaign.

First, the RNC suspended their support for Moore when the allegations of sexual assault first came to light. They got back behind him soon after President Trump got off the sidelines and endorsed him. And since that happened Monday night, we've been asking someone from the RNC to come on the program, they have declined each day. So we've sent Randi Kaye to see if she could talk to somebody from the RNC.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): When it comes to what's happening in Alabama, who do you believe? Do you believe Roy Moore or do you believe the women who have come out accusing him?

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

KAYE: Can I just follow up because we didn't really get an answer on 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 do into that voting as to make a decision as to whose best represent them.

KAYE: Is that why the RNC decided to support Roy Moore again and send funding his way?

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


COOPER: And back now with the panel.

Paul, I wonder what you make of the RNC support, I mean they took out support from Roy Moore then as soon as the president, I mean, this seems like the president getting off the sidelines allowed cover for a lot of people get back in.

BEGAL: Hold, yes, like (INAUDIBLE) here's with co-chairman McDaniel says to Randi, we're just a political arm of the White House. You know, in part the party is, but that is -- a actual party with a great tradition.

In 1991, when David Duke was running for governor in Louisiana, President George H. W. Bush called him a charlatan and a racist and he denounced him, because it was more important for principle of the party. By the way his opponent that time was Edwin Edwards, the controversy governor who went on to serve his state making license plates in the penitentiary. This gives us the case where Roy Moore's opponent is the guy who prosecuted the clansman who murdered little girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. He's a fine man. And so, turning away from Roy Moore does not croak the Republican Party, they perfectly good Alabamian who would take that seat, and I hope he does.

So, this -- what it shows is they're no longer the party of Ronald Regan or George Bush, they're the party of Donald Trump and Roy Moore. That's the Republican brand.

COOPER: Bryan, is the Republican Party now the party of Donald Trump, not the party of Regan anymore?

LANZA: Well, yes. Of course it's the party of Donald Trump. Just like during the 2000s, the party was the party of George W. Bush. You know, I think if you look at, you know, what the president is saying here, he's saying, let the voters of Alabama make this decision. You know, the press has had their time to share as much outrage that exists. We've heard all these victims and he's going to let the voters decide, you know?

COOPER: Should Al Franken not have to step down? Should been up to the voters in Minnesota?

LANZA: Yes. I think Al Franken had make the decision for his constituents and he'll basically lost broad support from his fellow U.S. senators. I mean he said the ability for him to function had become, you know, unattainable for him.

And Moore is going to come up -- come to D.C., assuming he wins on Tuesday and we'll see how attainable that position for his -- here in D.C. There's going to be a review, this maybe the first opportunity where we get him on the record discussing the things that took place in Alabama 40 years ago, 30 years ago, maybe in 20 years ago. This is going to be the first opportunity if he wins on Tuesday. And, you know, we should have that process.

HOOVER: Yes. The thing that shocking to me is that Republicans who has been operative, who works a consultant, who works in a space, when I'm not television talking about it, is how actually unified the Republican feel in support of Roy Moore not split. You've got one ore two Republican elected, maybe three in the Senate, Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, Ben Sasse, who have really said, no, this guy can't serve in the U.S. Senate. And then you have an entire universe of consultants, of super packs, of grassroots people, grasstops people, all of them are staying away from this race. No one is taking a moral stand. No one is taking a moral stand against Roy Moore.

KINGSTON: Paul Ryan is.

HOOVER: No, he's not putting money behind it. He's not putting organizational support behind it.


HOOVER: He is not -- but Paul Ryan is the Speaker of the House. On the Senate side and putting money into this race against Roy Moore, a man that we, many Republicans and many Americans regardless of your political affiliation, but mine specially is Republican, does not want associated with the Republican Party, the Republican brand. Very few people are willing to put their money where their mouth is and that's what --

[21:20:02] KINGSTON: Well, let me say this as somebody who co-hosted a fund raiser for Luther Strange, I maybe the only one on the party, in --

HOOVER: So where is the Republican money going against Roy Moore right now? Not in the primary, because that's money down the drain. We all know, Roy Moore was going to win the primary. That was a very difficult primary, we know what Alabama primary voters do. What about the general? Where is the money right now?

POWERS: But I think a lot of this also and we talked about this a little, but this morning is -- I think some of this could be happening, because there's so few Democratic women -- I mean, so few Republican women senators, right? This was led in the Democratic Party by the women. And because there is so many of these Democratic women senators and they're the ones who came out first, and then some of the men followed. But this was mostly done by women.

And so we see what happens when you don't have women representatives I think, where people are not taking this seriously.

HOOVER: And as corollary, you see that in the House of Representatives as well. Where are the Republican women in the House of Representatives coming out against Fahrenthold, (INAUDIBLE), Trent Franks and saying, really in a unified voice, we cannot have this behavior on our side of the chamber either.

But -- what I would love to see is a Republican women elected in House of Representatives. It's not just Barbara Comstock, come together and write a letter saying, in our caucus we will not support this.

RYAN: But when -- if the Republican women do that, you are now pointing a finger there. And you have to point a finger down the road at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It's the spotlight is blaring and red- hot. I mean, the president said at one point, he was going to sue those women. This president at some point has to come out and say something.

I mean, he has moved the goal post, and December 12th, if Roy Moore wins that seat, the goal post has been moved and now you'll have a whole crop of different types of politicians or people thinking they're politicians coming into the race who have any kind of thing in the background and people will say, oh, I like them.

COOPER: Just very quickly, does everyone here think Roy more is going to win?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not necessarily.

RYAN: He's got a chance.


BEGALA: There is a third option --

RYAN: He's got a chance.


BEGALA: --which means Colonel Lee Busby, a Republican is running as a right, and he had been a deputy to General Kelly, our White House Chief of Staff. Colonel Busby is running as a real Republican -- Alabama Republican as a write-in. And he may siphon off enough votes from honest good Republicans who can't bear to have a Democrat, but want a real Republicans Colonel Lee Busby.

What do you think Margaret?

HOOVER: But I think that's right, Paul, but I think in that case, it throws it to Doug Jones, right? You have Republicans splitting their votes between Moore and Busby, and then Doug Jones a Democrat with the seat which by the way, many Republicans are fine.

LANZA: -- his name three times.

KINGSTON: I actually think the U.S. people of Alabama see this as their race.

COOPER: Right.

KINGSTON: And I think that the kind of defiance of what they would call the Washington establishment, I think Roy Moore is going to have the momentum.


COOPER: But even Roy Moore --


KINGSTON: But I want to say this. I want to get back to something about the Republican women. It is ingenious for Democratic women who defended Bill Clinton for decades now to start --


RYAN: -- there? This is now -- the climate (ph) was not --


LANZA: -- still outraged by --



KINGSTON: -- and spoke against him, she quickly backtracked because the Democratic Party --

COOPER: You got Paul and then we're going to go.

BEGALA: Every charge back then was aired, every woman was heard, it was litigated, it's investigated, adjudicated. Jack didn't like how it will happen, you don't like how the result is, but that's been done. It has not been done with Donald Trump. Those women have not had their day in court. And they've not had their day in a court of impeachment and they have not had their day frankly very often in the media.

COOPER: All right, more breaking news revelations about what happened after that now infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 16, new e-mails following up between some people in the room and Russians, CNN exclusive next.


[21:25:50] COOPER: Breaking news in the Russia investigation, tonight previously undisclosed e-mails show that some of the people in the room at the Trump Tower last summer followed-up afterwards. CNN's Jim Sciutto has the story for us tonight.

Jim, what are you learning about these e-mails?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: From the beginning, since this Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 was revealed, you remember, Anderson, the Trump world explanation has been two fold. One, is the meeting was one off, there was no follow-up. And two, that the conversation in that meeting was largely or exclusively combined to Russian adoptions. And we've seen that story break down.

And these newly revealed e-mails further break down or at least raise hard questions about those explanations, one, the e-mail show that there was in fact follow-up e-mails back and forth communications by participants in that meeting after the fact. And two, that the conversation looks like it extended beyond those Russian adoptions. I give you an example.

June 14th, 2016, five days after the Trump Tower meeting, Rob Goldstone who set up the meeting, e-mailed one of the Russians who was in the room as well as another Russian on the very day that it is revealed, the story is broken that Russia had hacked the DNC, he forwards them a CNN story on that e-mail breach and says, isn't this "Eerily weird in light of what we talked about in that meeting?" Raises the question, what did you then talk about in the meeting? Was it related to the DNC hack? Was it related to some other, you know, e-mail breaches et cetera?

Because we know going into that meeting, Don Jr. was told that the Russians were going to bring damaging information on Hillary Clinton. At a minimum for Congressional investigators, it raises hard questions.

COOPER: I understand. There's also a separate e-mail about a Russian social media site sort of their version of Facebook and wanting to get candidate Trump on the site.

SCIUTTO: That's exactly right. In fact, the series of e-mails where, again, Rob Goldstone, who brokered this meeting in Trump Tower, repeatedly reaching out to Dan Scaveno, who is now the White House's Social Media Director, suggesting and encouraging that Trump should have a site on Russian Facebook. And in fact, we are told that subject, that idea came up coming out of this Trump Tower meeting.

So again, raising that question or in fact giving evidence at least of follow-up, following that meeting, and also further evidence that the subject discussed -- the subjects discussed inside that meeting not confined to that issue of Russian adoptions.

Again, Congressional investigators, they have these e-mails and we know that Rob Goldstone is going to appearing before about the Senate and the House Intelligence Committee as early as next week. You've got to be sure he's going to be asked about these conversations.

COOPER: Yes. Jim Sciutto, thanks.

SCIUTTO: Thank you. COOPER: Let's go back to our panel. Kirsten, what this is a reminder of is just -- that what we have seen thus far in terms of e-mails is the tip of the iceberg.

POWERS: Right.

COOPER: We don't, you know, always -- is what Donald Trump Jr. has released about his e-mails or what he says were his e-mail exchanges on that Trump Tower meeting. We haven't seen e-mails from Paul Manafort or Kushner or others who were in there.

POWERS: Yes. I mean, what we we've told -- what we were told publicly, what we're told in the statement initially was not true, -- sort of everywhere along the way. It seems like what we're told isn't really the whole story. We were told there wasn't any kind of follow- up, and now there was follow-up. And so it brings us back to the same thing over and over which is why are you not just telling the truth about what happened if nothing happened? It's just -- it's what people do when they're hiding something, right?

COOPER: Bryan, how do you answer that?

LANZA: Listen.

COOPER: Why not just like in the beginning, just come out and say, OK, here's what happened?

LANZA: Clearly, the revolving disclosure hurts and that's a lot of questions and it feeds a lot of cable time. But, you know, I think, you know, if you look at what, you know, the position of the administration is let this -- let the investigation happen, let the more investigation happen. They cooperated by every measurement they've asked of them so far. And, you know, these things are going to continue to dribble out as this investigations comes close to an end. There's not that many more people for the -- for Mueller to interview. There's not years of -- rearrange (ph) of information for them to review. This was, you know, year and a half long campaign.

So, I mean, let the information come out, and, you know, you have e- mails of people reaching out to Don (ph) to follow-up and we're speculating this may ask hard questions. You know, the facts that currently exist what we do know is Senator Feinstein has said she seen no collusion. This is a senior ranking person on the Senate Intelligence Committee who said, she has seen no collusion --

[21:30:05] COOPER: She's not actually part of the Mueller investigation.

LANZA: But she's part of, you know, part of the committee that's reviewing some of the Russia information specifically the collusion.

COOPER: Right.

LANZA: So she said, she see nothing. So I don't know why we can't just sort of work off of that narrative, rather than create this narrative that other stuff has taken place. COOPER: Paul, you were very critical, Paul, of the Ken Starr investigation.

BEGALA: Somewhat.

COOPER: Some of the -- well, some of the words you used to describe back it in 1998 were corrupt, out of control, a witch hunt, you wanted an investigation of the investigation.

BEGALA: Correct.

COOPER: Why was that your position then but that's not your position now?

BEGALA: To start with, I said corrupt in the word (ph) acting sense, that absolute power corrupt absolutely. Starr had 78 FBI agents, $70 million. Four years and his investigation just kept going until he finally found President Clinton was unfaithful to his wife.

As he -- and Starr -- first off, it was the first case of Starr had ever prosecuted. He even had a traffic ticker. Bob Mueller has done this all his life. He's one of the great investigators and prosecutors.

During the time he was going after Clinton, Starr was also working for cigarette companies who were Bill Clinton's mortal enemies and a big fight over big tobacco. Working for your biggest enemy, and then investigating a big tobacco's biggest threat.

The Grand jury information was leaking on a daily basis out of Starr's shop, it was completely leaky vessel. Mueller buttoned up and tight. No conflicts of interest, doesn't leak, true professional, by the way, happens to be Republican. Starr also happened to be a Republican. He's a political appointee of the guy we defeated. It was completely different set of facts. And that's why Mueller is going to know.

By the way, Mueller has all those e-mails, you know what else he has? He has General Flynn. That's a (INAUDIBLE) who can walk him through all of that. And the truth will come out. And I think the fact that we have a confident professional, happens to be a Republican, man and Mr. Mueller leading it, is a very good thing.


KINGSTON: I would say this to my good friend Mr. Begala. You do have three of the prosecutors on there who are Democrat donors, including James Coral, who gave $33,000 to Democrats. And (INAUDIBLE) along with Jing Ree (ph) to Hillary Clinton, that's relevant.

Number two you got Bruce Ohr now with the DOJ who's been busted because he talked to Christopher Steele about the dossier before the election end. Then you also have Peter Strzok who interviewed Huma Abedin and interviewed Cheryl Mills and Hillary Clinton, and yet did not hold them to the high standards that they're holding Mike Flynn, even though Flynn was also interviewed by the same guy. He also was involved with the dossier, and saying the dossier was credible. So, I think from a Republican standpoint, you can say look, the Mueller operation isn't exactly pure either. And I think that that's -- well for me --

BEGALA: That's your story. you said --


BEGALA: I'm telling you.

KINGSTONE: -- but we would know, we would say the same thing about the Starr.

BEGALA: Yes. But I was right, and you were wrong. Starr went on to disgrace himself at Baylor University. OK, he's a disgraceful human being.

KINGSTONE: But he did for the president perjure. And --

BEGALA: He's not. He found not guilty. The president was impeached.

KINGSTONE: Well, you keep want to relitigate Clinton because you can't defend Trump. That's what's going on.

BEGALA: You're the one talking about Starr and Bill.


BEGALA: I'm not a big fan of Ken Starr.

COOPER: We're going to continuing the conversation.

Plus, we'll talk about how the whole slate of issues affecting President Trump's job approval rating.

Also we'll take a -- scene of the -- one of Southern California's many fires now burning unbelievable pictures. It could be getting worst before it gets better.


[21:36:22] COOPER: More now on breaking news, the Russia investigation previously undisclosed e-mail show that some of the people in the room, the Trump Tower meeting June 2016, followed-up afterwards with multiple e-mails that includes an e-mail just five days after the meeting from the publicist who helped set up the meeting, Rob Goldstone, to two of the Russians who were in the room. The e-mail that Jim Scuito reported contains the links to CNN reporting about Russia's hacking of DNC e-mails. Goldstone described it as "eerily weird" given what they had discussed to Trump Tower.

Back now with the panel.

April when you hear Republicans say look, this is -- there's not many more people to interview, this is -- the end is in sight on this. There's no evidence here, what do you think? RYAN: I think back to a couple weeks ago when Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, we've it on good authority that it's going to be over soon. And I asked her, you know, who told you this, when is it going to be over? I kept asking her, she couldn't get it together. In the next day she had to come back, Jack (ph) and say, you know, well, we are hopeful.

This is not over by any stretch of the imagination. The dribs and drabs keep coming. Mueller is doing his job and, you know, going back to the issue of Mike Flynn. Mike Flynn is going through this plea deal. And when you do a plea deal you go for somebody bigger.

There are three people, three people who could be bigger, Jr., Kushner, and Bannon. So, we have to see, I mean, I understand that you are hopeful as well. But this is real, this is not a myth. This is not conjecture. This is about the democracy and a sacred process in politics that was hampered by the Russians. And how far or when did these people engage in this communication.

COOPER: Margaret do you see Donald Trump Jr. being called back or subpoenaed back to testify publicly on Capitol because he's plead attorney-client privilege because an attorney was in the room when he was talking to his father which most legal analyst, (INAUDIBLE) was on before saying, you know, mob figures had try that before just have -- like an attorney sitting in a room as a potted plant, but it doesn't really work.

HOOVER: Well, and all of the -- his positions so far is also been that somehow there have been negotiations that have prevented him from ever having to go in front of the cameras. And I think the White House and his lawyers will do everything they can to keep the cameras on him.

I agree with -- I agree with all -- all of this is going to come out eventually, OK? The scope of Muller's investigation is broader and just -- the matter of collusion as well. I mean, the points that we also have to get to the bottom of, and this is the point that should be non-partisan, is to what extent did the (INAUDIBLE) the country of Russia, interfere in our elections? And to what extent will they try again? And to what extent were they successful, right? This is actually -- this is beyond the collusion point, the most important point in the concept of our democracy. Let's not forget that.

RYAN: That day of the Billy Bush tape. The access -- that information came out that day of the "Access Hollywood" tape.

HOOVEY: Right.

RYAN: So, we know, we know that they tried to manipulate the media, and social media, we know that they tried to manipulate things, I mean, I don't understand what you're saying, what did they do and how did they do it. We already had --

HOOVEY: Oh, no, no. April, that's just what we know, all right? But what about the Facebook ads? What about the -- like, there is a whole lot --

RYAN: That's what they talked about not --

HOOVEY: But, you know what, it's not just what we know, that's the point. Is that Robert Mueller has access to individuals, to information, to highly confidential and classified details that all will come out. And, by the way is far broader than just whether or not there was collusion with President Trump which at this point, granted. It's not clear that there was collusion with President Trump.

[21:40:01] RYAN: But there's a problem if we have a president --

HOOVEY: But we need to know all of it. We need to know all of it.

RYAN: Vladimir Putin, if you did it, and he says I believe him. And then you have -- and anything that happens in Russia that of this magnitude, Vladimir Putin -- the Obama Administration, Intelligence Community has said this over and over again. And you have something like that Vladimir Putin knows exactly what's going on.

I mean, you know, I have to bring this together. But you have this going on and then you have the issue with the Olympics. I mean -- And you don't think he knew that either?

HOOVER: Because this is why you have to have a credible independent investigator and this is why it's also so asinine and frankly unpatriotic that the right -- the far right, Newt Gingrich and others are going and trying to undermine the credibility of the highest sort of independent institution we have right now, and the context of examining this past election.

RYAN: The goal post is forever moved.

KINGSTON: If they're looking at something -- everything, which I agree with you, put it all on the table. But shouldn't they also look at the connection between the Clinton campaign and the dossier.

RYAN: Hold on guy, here we go again.

KINGSTON: But why --

RYAN: But what's -- no, no what's happening now.

KINGSTON: -- to say a question.

RYAN: Did Russia go there then? Did Russia go -- did Russia messed with that election in the '90s for Bill Clinton?

KINGSTON: Let me finish, though. The question is, what did the FBI use the dossier for? Did they use that to justify the special prosecutor, make the recommendation for it? And that -- does that not disturb us as Americans?


RYAN: It's like a game of pong or something.

COOPER: Bryan, I know you want it get in.

LANZA: I mean Russia getting involved in our election through Facebook or whatever channels they used. It's not the first time a foreign country has tried to do that.

HOOVER: Do we want to know about it?

LANZA: Absolutely. We're just at the beginning of it. You know, we had Congressional hearings during -- when the Chinese got involved in the Bill Clinton campaign with all the illegal fund-raising that took place there.

Something this is the pattern countries do, you know, interfering our elections and we do deserve -- and we do -- and the voters have a responsibility -- voters want, you know, to hold the elected officials responsible to find out the facts. As we get closer to the facts let's not conflate them with one Congressional hearing with another Congressional hearing with Mueller special investigation. They're all separate things.

But the only when that's sort of matters from any real legal liability is going to be the Mueller investigation. And they have a couple people so far, you know, of lying to him. They have -- they'd able to get Manafort, they've been able to get Gates.

I think it's something the administration needs to be concerned about, but let's be -- let's be also be honest. It's not going to be a four- year investigation. It's not even going to be an additional six months. We're near the end because it's just not that many more people --

RYAN: Who knows -- no it's not. No, it's not.

COOPER: All right. Let's take a quick break. Including two big polling challenges coming up next for the GOP to overcome our taxes and the president's popularity details discussions next.


[21:46:50] COOPER: New polling tonight on two items that mattered Republicans, of course for 2018, the popularity of their tax legislation, the popularity of the president.

Tonight, new numbers on both, one as we mentioned at the top, is a record low for Pew research. And the latest survey showing just 32 percent approval for the way President Trump is doing his job.

And from CBS News, the new polls showing just 35 percent approval for the tax plan, with 53 percent saying they disapprove. Only 16 percent saying they strongly approve of the plan. Our panel on the other hand enjoys widespread support.

Again, how troubling are these numbers?

POWERS: First, I can't wait to hear Jack, who's going to blame this on Bill Clinton. But I think there -- (CROSSTALK)

POWERS: Yes. Yes. But the --


POWER: Exactly. Yes. But they're pretty. They're really bad.

I mean this is incredible and this is a president that is obsessed with the polls, so I would assume this is something that bothers him. Also if you remember, the economy is doing pretty well, and typically when the economy is doing well, presidents have really good approval ratings. In fact they usually track very closely. So this is a pretty clear message from people that they're unhappy with how the president is governing.

COOPER: Bryan how do you see -- I mean as a supporter of the president on this one?

LANZA: You know, they had a tough year. They've had a legislative agenda that they've fallen short on. I think you're going to see some changes in the next month. You look at tax reform that's moving forward.

You're going to -- that's going to gain popularity among the base, amongst some of the people he may promises too. And you're going to have sort of more legislative victories on the back end of this Congressional cycle.

And I think those numbers will improve. I mean they have to improve. I mean that's just where we are.

COOPER: Is -- all this what's behind. I mean it seems like President Trump has been making a lot of moves. Really just geared toward the base to just solidify the base on what you can argue on Roy Moore. You can argue on Jerusalem and those the campaign promise. You know, it is -- it's very popular among, you know, some of his voters.

BEGALA: And it's an interesting strategy, clearly his strategy is to retreat to my base. And we keep covering that. We keep covering the people, say, yes, he could shoot a guy on Fifth Avenue it won't lost my support. That is -- it's interesting. It's interesting to talk to people who are like that committed. Literally, if we had a functioning mental health system it would be.

But if we look at the whole of Trump voters he was at 46, 13 months ago on Election Day, 46. Now he's at 32 in Pew. That means 30 percent of the people who voted for him had quit on him.

I'm desperately interested in them. And I've talked to pollsters. I've talk to some of them. And I knew it wasn't Russia. I think Ryan made a point earlier, this is not driving the politics, and he's right. I think Russia is substantive problems but it's not his political problem.

It turns out what you hear a lot is tone and temperament and Twitter. And in fact even on Election Day, went back and look. On Election Day one out of five Trump voters said they didn't think he had the temperament to be president.

They took a risk on him because they wanted a wrecking ball and they really wanted to believe what he told you in that interview. And Donald Trump, what did you said, I'm going to -- I can change, I'm just doing this in the campaign. I can change -- I'm going to be so presidential you're going to be bored.

Now we know that's not possible. And that's why I think 30 percent of his folks -- he's lost 30 percent of his support. If I work for Donald Trump I'd be in panic (ph) talking about it.

HOOVER: And here's the flip side of that though. Those 30 percent of those people he's lost --

BEGALA: Right.

HOOVER: -- still look themselves in the mirror and say, he's better than Hillary Clinton would have been. And I'm not bringing it back Hillary Clinton.


[21:49:59] HOOVER: But that's what the base -- the Republican base is actually saying, because they feel like they had a false choice or two very bad choices and they truly believe that she would've been worst. And so, any sort of the future in terms of Trump's, you know, prospects (ph) not beyond 2018, really for 2020 for re-election depends desperately on who he is up against.

RYAN: But let's be honest, OK? There is buyer's remorse within the Republican Party. And I hate the --

HOOVER: Don't tell me that. I know very well.

RYAN: Yes. There's a big, there's a percolating by a group of people who have buyers remorse. But at the same time, I really wish that we could stop looking at those who approve and look at that larger number that disapproves. I think we flipped it the wrong way, the ones that disapprove.

And I mean, I understand Republicans who are still supporting him, love the fact that he is pro-guns, that he is anti-tax, that he is pro-life, and the things that the Republicans like.

But at the same time, I believe, that people are getting upset with the Twitter, the (INAUDIBLE), and -- I found you and the president -- the former president was looking through my microwave and wire tapping me, and then, other things. I mean, you know, going down the line from Charlottesville to just that the back drop of the Navajo Code Talkers with Andrew Jackson. Those kinds of thing just resound in the wrong way for people who look to their president --

COOPER: But there were plenty of the people on, you know, during the campaign who are complaining about Donald Trump -- (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But there were enough other people and that's why we're focusing on them because those are the people who got him elected president.

RYAN: They love him --


RYAN: -- but now that he is in office, he is not presidential at all.

KINGSTON: But in terms of the tax cut, I think that really what's going to happen is once people get their reduction and they see the economy -- and remember, we are still had a 25-year low in unemployment. We're still at a consumer confidence level that's breaking records. The home ownership is at risk.

RYAN: The residue of Barrack Obama.

KINGSTON: So many good things about the economy. Now, people going into the election and they say, I don't want to change things. I don't really like Donald Trump. I don't like Jack Kingston. I don't like whomever, but right now I'm doing OK. And so, that's what's really important. I think in the long run, Paul, you know it. Because Bill Clinton wasn't really popular all the time but people thought, you know, the economy is --


COOPER: -- is that the most number one thing. I mean, if you can't grow it right now, is shoring it up vital.

LANZA: Yes, obviously, shoring it up is going to be vital, but also, it's one thing that, you know, we forget what happened last November and we sort of, you know, forget what's happening currently.

Last November, it was Trump against Hillary Clinton. It wasn't Trump against Trump. It was the media who try to sort of, you know, box Trump in with his previous statements that became all the segments about Donald Trump. But the voters were voting for Hillary Clinton, so they had the choice. This election that we're going to see this coming up November it's going to be a choice between Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi, Donald Trump and Chuck Schumer. Those guys, they're not equally popular around the country either, so you're going to have a Battle Royale on issues and personalities that already very divisive figures, and so we'll see how it plays out.

RYAN: It's Donald Trump against Kim Jong-Un now where on the precipice possible war.

HOOVER: That's exactly right.

RYAN: And that is an issue as well.

HOOVER: That's right. RYAN: People are -- this is a nation that's war-weary, so.

COOPER: We're going to take a break. Coming up, the latest on the devastating wildfires across Southern California. An update when we come back here.

We looking at live picture right there. Just incredible to see these flames. We'll be right back.


[21:57:15] COOPER: It's the last thing that thousands of firefighters who have been working around the clock trying to fight the fires need in Southern California. Two more fires, that's what they got today, as military personnel as well working around the clock trying to make headway.

This is an aerial shot of a fire in San Diego County that shows how devastating these fires are in neighborhoods. You can see dozens of homes on fire, just unbelievable.

About 25 minutes later, a much need water drop. Steve Price from our affiliate, KFMB, joins with us now with the latest. I understand the wind is really strong where you are. This made things obviously difficult for authorities trying to contain the fire. Have they made any progress?

STEVE PRICE: Yes. We are having wind gust at 20, 30 miles an hour, which is very rare for fires in the evening, Anderson. Usually what'll happen is Mother Nature will cooperate night. The fires will kind of lay down, and then firefighters can get containment. Tonight, zero percent containment. I'm going to just going to let you see how quickly the wind is blowing into these trees right here. The orange glow unfortunately, at this point, as I mentioned, that fire is zero percent contained. Five thousand homes being threatened as we speak this evening.

And at this point, 20 homes lost, including the one behind me, so definitely, without question a very devastating night for the people up here in Northern San Diego County in the community of Bonsall.

COOPER: Yes. And Steve, we could, I mean, your live shot is pretty incredible, the flames burning right behind you. That's the residue of a home?

PRICE: Yes, this is a home. When I talk to some firefighters, they said they tried to get here to save this house but they said the winds were whipping so quickly, the ember is moving in all different directions. Unfortunately, they just couldn't save this one home. That said, they have done an amazing job even with the wind, doing water drops out here to save all the other homes in this particular neighborhood.

We did see several sheds go up in flames. We saw several vehicles go up in flames. But as far as homes, this is the only one lost in this one particular area. There were several mobile homes in one area where the fire started and that's where they lost most of the structures. I should also tell you that a lot of people in this area that have horses, and they were able to get a lot those horses out of here as well. Unfortunately, some of them did pass away.

COOPER: And evacuation orders are in place?

PRICE: Evacuation orders are in place for the people in this immediate area. They haven't told us exactly how many people but they have set up three emergency evacuation shelters for the people tonight.

COOPER: Wow. Well, Steve, I appreciate you talking to us tonight. And again, just our thoughts and our prayers, and our best wishes are with all the people there, and all the firefighters, military personnel battling those flames. Thanks for watching 360.

It's time to hand things over Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts right now. See you tomorrow.

DON LEMON, "CNN TONIGHT" HOST: Thank you very much, Anderson. Look at that, we've got a lot more to come on those wildfires raising all across Southern California.