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E-mail Shows WikiLeaks Effort; Deputy AG Testifies About Russia; Trump to Rally Near Alabama; Wildfires Torch California. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired December 8, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:34:14] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, more now on our breaking news in the Russia investigation and a CNN exclusive. An electronic trail shows a new attempt to share hacked WikiLeaks documents with the Trump campaign. Candidate Donald Trump, his son, other members of the campaign and the Trump Organization received an e-mail offering access to WikiLeaks documents. This was just weeks before the 2016 election. It's important to note, there's no smoking gun, no evidence that the campaign responded to that outreach.

Here to discuss that and more, Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington. She sits on the House Judiciary Committee.

It's very nice to have you. Thanks for joining us.


HARLOW: So I hope you've had a chance to read this new CNN reporting about WikiLeaks, someone reaching out saying, here's the way to access all of these WikiLeaks documents to the Trump campaign. No evidence that they did indeed do that, but this is an e-mail that went to the president, his son, other members of the Trump Organization. As you sit on House Judiciary, what does that make you think? Do you have more questions given this?

[09:35:14] JAYAPAL: I do have more questions. And I'll tell you, I think that there's a, you know, a closing in on the president's closest circle. And, yes, there's no indication that they acted on these e-mails. But if you are in that situation and you get an e-mail like that, you should be reporting it. That didn't happen either. And you have to ask why.

And so I think that combined with the whistle-blower that has come forward, our ranking member, Elijah Cummings, who sent a letter to Tray Gowdy saying, we need to be investigating this. You can sit down with this whistle-blower who has come forward and said that Michael Flynn was actually texting during President Trump's inauguration speech and talking about how the Russian sanctions were going to be ripped up and this was going to create wealth for all kinds of people who were trying to build nuclear reactors in Russia. This is just an increasing level of how closely tied the Trump

campaign and then the Trump administration seemed to be to these Russian contacts. And I think that it's very important that we, in Congress, investigate this and continue to have an independent investigation, even as Robert Mueller's investigation is continuing.

HARLOW: Let me ask you this. On the Senate side of Judiciary, Senator Dianne Feinstein has been critical of her Republican counterpart and chairman of the committee, Chuck Grassley, saying he's not taking some of these Russia leads seriously enough. Do you feel the same way about your Republican counterparts on your committee or are you confident that those in the House Judiciary Committee are following all of these threads?

JAYAPAL: I wish I could say I was confident. Chairman Goodlatte and the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee would like to start impeachment hearings for Hillary Clinton, except the only thing is, Hillary Clinton is not the president. You know, the reality is, we have seen a tremendous lack of respect for Judiciary Committee's roles in the House in investigating these issues. We've put forward, as Democrats, multiple resolutions of inquiry. We've asked Chairman Goodlatte to take up these investigations. And it is the only committee of record that is not holding investigations. And I think it's a real disservice to the American people.

HARLOW: Congresswoman, let me ask you this. So in front of the -- in front of your committee, House Judiciary, next week you're going to have Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify about Mueller's investigation, the Russia investigation. Now, there are multiple investigations about why he was not more forthcoming with information, details, after he fired one of their top agents on the Russia case, Peter Strzok, for texting about his leanings towards Hillary Clinton and against President Trump with another associate on that team. Yes, he fired him right away, but do you have concerns about the fact that this person was even on the team and that it wasn't disclosed for months, frankly, why he was fired?

JAYAPAL: Well, look, I think that those are the questions that Republicans are for sure going to spend the entire hearing focusing on.

HARLOW: But I'm asking you, aren't those legitimate questions regardless of party?

JAYAPAL: I think that all these questions are legitimate. My question has been from the very beginning in Judiciary, ask whatever you want to ask, but let us also ask whatever we want to ask. In fact --


JAYAPAL: When I offered my resolution of inquiry, I said that to the Republicans, I understand you have questions about Hillary Clinton's e-mails, let's include them. Let's have a bipartisan process to actually delve into the things that we need to delve into. But don't use these opportunities to just ask about one thing and refuse to actually hold real hearings around what is very serious before us. HARLOW: Before we go, another important topic, sexual harassment,

assault, abuse. You co-sponsored legislation with Republicans and Democrats this week on The Hill to try to end this, to prevent it, to make it more public when it happens, to give power to victims when it comes to not having to be forced into secret arbitration. You wrote an op-ed for "The Huffington Post" titled "Democrats Are Missing An Enormous Opportunity to Lead on Sexual Harassment."

Given that, were you comfortable with the way that Senator Al Franken of Minnesota resigned yesterday without apology to these six plus women who have come forward, or do you think that hurt the party on this front?

JAYAPAL: No, I think it's very important that we, as Democrats, and hopefully as Republicans, really draw a bright line in the sand for the women who are coming out across the country talking about things that have been happening for decades. I don't think we can pick and choose. I, as much as I would like to -- I have a lot of respect for Al Franken, for John Conyers, for others on our side who have done so much for the country, but we can't just say that that erases these other things that have happened.

And in the absence of having a real process that people believe in and that is fast and transparent and accountable, this is what's going to happen. And so I hope that we, in Congress, can quickly put together a process that allows for women to come forward, takes away the barriers to reporting, and then very quickly determines what, you know, what the accountability should be, because I don't think it's the right conversation for us to be having to say, well, is this -- you know, if he gropes a breast verses a bottom, is that the conversation we should be having? I don't think so. I think we need to draw a very clear line in the sand around this.

[09:40:33] HARLOW: Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal, we appreciate your time. Thank you.

JAYAPAL: Thank you.

HARLOW: Six wildfires still raging in California this morning, ripping through peoples' homes, forcing thousands to evacuate. The weather forecast predicts no relief in sight anytime soon. A live report from California ahead.


[09:45:09] HARLOW: All right, six wildfires, look at that, burning out of control in California right now.

Our correspondent, Stephanie Elam, is in Ventura County with an update.

What else are we seeing, Steph?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Poppy, that we just got updated numbers on this Thomas fire, which is the largest fire burning here in California. We now know it has burned some 132,000 acres and it is now up to 10 percent containment, which is the good news. But finding out that it's larger is our concern here.

And what we are also seeing now is more of what these homes look like that have been destroyed. We know dozens of homes have been lost, like this one here that we are in front of here in Ventura.

All across the state you have some 5,700 firefighters battling these blazes. Yesterday morning we saw a fire sprout up in -- north of San Diego, the Lilac fire, which has burned more than 4,000 acres and burned and destroyed several buildings there as well.

This is the situation that is not going to be done. A very difficult situation for firefighters here in California because those winds that have been spreading so much of these fires are expected to pick up again today into tomorrow. So no change in the conditions, which means fighting these blazes that already exist is going to remain difficult, but there's also the chance that new fires could start as well, and that is always the concern, Poppy.

HARLOW: Wow. All right, Stephanie Elam, thank you for the update. We'll check back with you next hour. We appreciate it.

Also ahead for us, President Trump heads to Florida tonight, but almost to Alabama, 25 miles from the Alabama border. And you can bet, folks in Alabama will be there and will be listening. What will he say about Roy Moore's campaign to be senator of Alabama, as a wave of congressional resignations hit Capitol Hill?


[09:51:16] HARLOW: A wave this week as three members of Congress resign in three days amid sexual harassment claims.

Congressman Trent Franks the latest to announce he is leaving his post.

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson was on Capitol Hill this week supporting legislation to help victims. She, of course, became an activist after she sued Fox News and Roger Ailes for sexual harassment.

John and I asked her, what needs to change?


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So Franken may be gone, Conyers -- John Conyers resigned from the House of Representatives, yet on the Republican side, the Republican Party just backed Roy Moore officially in the Alabama Senate race. The president still backs him. And, of course, the president has his own accusers. So it does beg the question, you know, is there a partisan divide here, Gretchen, on how people are being treated and these cases are being treated?

GRETCHEN CARLSON, FORMER FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Well, I think it's pretty obvious that the answer to that is yes. What I've said from the beginning, since my story broke 17 months ago, is that sexual harassment is apolitical and that it's completely disingenuous to believe some groups of women and not believe others. And that's what we're seeing play out right now.

I believe America is in this amazing political divide, unfortunately, and I would just implore all Americans to try and put their politics aside and put human dignity before all of that.

HARLOW: You were on The hill at a very important hearing on sexual harassment and sexual assault largely because of legislation that you have been pushing for, Gretchen, now for more than a year, and that is to end forced arbitration, which is something that you were subject to when you sued Fox News and Roger Ailes. None of it has become public. A reported $20 million settlement. But you can't confirm or deny because of forced secret arbitration.

Now you have three Republican co-sponsors of this legislation, along with Democrats. Explain why this matters.

CARLSON: Well, I'm smiling because this has been a year of arduous hard work, trying to work with both sides to realize that sexual harassment is something that we should all care about and forced arbitration shoves all of these cases into complete secrecy. And we've really been fooling ourselves in the culture to believe that this isn't going on. And the reason that we don't think it's going on is because we haven't heard about these cases. But the reason we haven't heard about them is because they've been forced into secrecy.

So, after a lot of hard work and meeting with a lot of senators and members of the House over the last year, I was so proud to be able to announce that we had bipartisan support for this bill, not only in the House, but in the Senate. And this is actually going to move forward now. And wouldn't it be an amazing process to get something done for women. So often nothing gets done on The Hill, but wouldn't it be amazing if we could do this for women and it would end up on the desk of President Trump and we would see what he would do with it.

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting, I hope you can explain what this bill doesn't do also, because there are some women who want to keep things secret --

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: Who do want silence about their cases. This isn't forcing people to come public, is it?

CARLSON: No. This is giving women a choice. I mean that's why it's so powerful because it's giving women a choice to either go to arbitration, if they do want to keep it secret, or to have their Seventh Amendment right, which many people don't even realize they're signing away when they go to work.

Sixty million Americans have forced arbitration clauses in their employment contracts. When I ask groups of people to raise their hand and say whether or not they know if they have that, most people have no clue. So what this bill does is it gives women and men the opportunity to choose, do I want to adjudicate my case publicly, do I want the world to know what's happening to me, or do I want to keep it secret in arbitration? It really gives the power back to the victim. HARLOW: You've said that forced arbitration clauses are un-American.

And now you have had some experience on The Hill with helping craft legislation. Gretchen, I'm wondering if that has given you any desire to run for any form of public office one day as a result of what you've experienced here?

[09:55:20] CARLSON: Well, my life has worked in mysterious ways. I started as a classical violinist and was going to be a lawyer and I ended up in TV and never expected to be the face of sexual harassment. So my answer to that question is, who knows.

I have been asked to run for the Senate. I have said that it's not in my timing right now. But I will share with you that a couple of years ago my daughter said, mommy, why can women not be governors? And I said, oh, trust me, women can be governors. And this year she has said to me, mommy, when will you be president? And that shows that girls and boys alike believe that women can be and will do anything in their lives. And so, who knows.


HARLOW: Who knows. A very political answer from Gretchen Carlson. We will see if she does run. She has certainly stood up for so many women in this country.

All right, we're following breaking news on multiple fronts, on WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign. The CNN exclusive reporting, ahead.