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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Calls on President Trump to Resign; Candidates Moore, Jones Make Final Pitches to Alabama Voters. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 11, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
It's election eve in Alabama tonight. Both candidates making their last-minute pitches to voters and it is a stark choice. Voters are deciding between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. They're hearing from the heaviest hitters in each party.
Former President Obama with a robocall for Jones. President Trump weighing in for Moore.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need Roy voting for us. I'm stopping illegal immigration and crime. We're building a stronger military and protecting the Second Amendment and our pro life values. But if Alabama elects liberal Democrat Doug Jones, all of our progress will be stopped cold.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: That call, the president's earlier endorsement, his rally Friday night in Pensacola near the Alabama border, all of it also focusing new attention on his own alleged misconduct. It's motivated three of the president's dozen accusers of sexual misconduct toward themselves to come forward today, calling for a congressional investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA HOLVEY, PRESIDENT TRUMP ACCUSER: One, I think the endorsement is disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. And two, I don't think he should have been elected to begin with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Also prompted by the president's strong backing of Moore, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on CNN weighed in with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: President Trump should resign. These allegations are credible. They are numerous. I've heard these women's testimony. And many of them are heartbreaking. And President Trump should resign his position. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, she joins three other senators, Democrats Jeff Merkley and Cory Booker, as well as independent Bernie Sanders in calling for the president's departure, and also this weekend, there was this from Nikki Haley, President Trump's own U.N. ambassador.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Women who accused anyone should be heard. They should be heard, and they should be dealt with. And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Just to point out, that is not a critic talking. That's a cabinet member. And what she said was part of the dominant theme of today's White House press briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: She said I know he was elected, but women should always feel comfortable coming forward. We should all be willing to listen to them, specifically referring to the accusers of the president. Does the president agree with her?
REPORTER: The president told Howard Stern in 2005 that he walked into a teen beauty pageant dressing room where he said that teen contestants had no clothes on because he could sort of get away with things like that. Is that not an admission of sexual harassment?
REPORTER: Who are the eyewitnesses who disputes these allegations against the president, and can you stand here and say without a doubt, 100 percent certainty, that the more than dozen women who have come forward to accuse the president of misconduct are lying? Do you wrestle with this personally at all?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, those are the questions which we have edited lightly for time and have also done for the answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has denied any of these allegations as have eyewitnesses, and several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the president's claim in this process. And again, the American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we're ready to move forward in that process.
The president has said that it's a good thing for women to be able to feel comfortable in coming forward, generally speaking.
The president has spoken about this directly. I don't have anything further to add on the process.
I can say that the president has directly responded and said that these allegations are false. And that's what I'm doing and relaying that information to you. In terms of the specific, eyewitness accounts, there have been multiple reports, I would be happy to provide them to you after the briefing is completed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, keeping them honest, the eyewitnesses subsequently provided are problematic, you could say. A White House official calling two reports to our attention, one from "The New York Post' and another from "The New York Daily News", where one person denies Trump groped Jessica Leeds on a plane, and another says they never saw Trump walk backstage during a teen beauty pageant.
On the so-called Leeds eyewitness, his name is Anthony Gilbert Thorp, who was the Trump campaign -- the Trump campaign put him out during the 2016 contest to refute Jessica Leeds' claim that Trump groped on a flight. He's an English conservative, political activist with something of a sordid past.
Here's what he told Britain's "Daily Mirror" three years ago, quote: I supplied underage rent boys for Margaret Thatcher's cabinet ministers. Also telling "The Mirror", I was expected to find the youngest and prettiest boys. It is what those men wanted.
He's the one that the White House says can vouch for the president's good conduct aboard that flight. He's the one the Trump campaign arranged for CNN to speak with last year when all of this broke. We should point, we arrived for that meeting prepared to do an interview, but we're told all conversations with him would be off the record because they didn't want a, quote, cross examination. Needless to say, CNN didn't agree to that.
As for the other witness, the one in "The Daily News" article, she's Katie Blair, Miss Teen USA 2006. She reportedly told TMZ, that she never saw then-citizen Trump come backstage during a beauty contest. Keeping them honest, though, the accusation is from the 1997 pageant, not 2006.
[20:05:02] So Katie Blair's account doesn't seem to disprove anything.
And bear in mind, this is just two of 12 named accusers. Many of whom do have corroboration for what they allege. "The Washington Post" has a run down of several of them.
Kristin Anderson allegedly groped in a nightclub, told a friend just days later.
Natasha Stoynoff allegedly forcibly kissed by Donald Trump during a photo shoot at Mar-a-Lago, told a friend the next day. And four others have come forward to say she also confided in them.
Rachel Crooks also allegedly forcibly kissed, a practice citizen Trump bragged about on that "Access Hollywood" tape. She's backed up by her sister and her boyfriend at the time.
So, with that on the table, we're joined tonight by three Republicans, former Mitt Romney campaign adviser Stuart Stevens, former Ted Cruz communications director Amanda Carpenter, and former Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston.
So, Amanda, what do you make of the renewed focus on the Trump accusers and how the White House is handling it?
AMANDA CARENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the handling is terrible. It seems that the White House's preferred excuse is this has all been asked and answered, but it really hasn't been. All they have done is called the women repeatedly liars. And during the campaign, candidate Trump threatened to sue the women, which is a promise I would welcome because I think the discovery process would be extremely revealing.
And this whole idea that there's eyewitnesses that didn't witness Donald Trump doing this stuff, this is just a variation of Trump's favorite excuse, other people are sharing. They will probably produce people who say that Donald Trump is a great man who defends women all day long. They did it through the campaign.
But the long story short is that they just don't believe the women. They don't care. They only believe women who accuse men when those men happen to be Democrats because this is partisan warfare, and Donald Trump isn't going to own to anything.
So, these women should continue telling their story. I don't know what kind of political recourse there's going to be until the next election. And that's why I think the only outcome to rectify this is that there has to be some outlet for women to organize and harness and activate that anger and frustration in a positive political way.
COOPER: Jack, I mean, you heard Ambassador Haley say any woman who feels mistreated has the right to speak up. The argument that, you know, this has been litigated, the American public voted on this, and they elected Donald Trump -- does that negate their right to speak up?
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It doesn't negate their right to speak up, but let me talk about it from a little bit of a personal standpoint. The "Access Hollywood" tape broke out on a Friday night about 5:00. I was scheduled to do CNN the next morning and MSNBC the next morning, too, 8:00 and 10:00. So, I was one of the first ones out of the chute. And as you know, that week, there was a debate, and later, there was the Gloria Allred's somewhat parade of women. So, I did many, many shows about this.
And often, what I have heard in the last couple days is people said, well, these women haven't had a chance to speak out. I can tell you from personal experience, they absolutely spoke out during the months of September and October, you know, from that moment on, whenever that date was. And they were well heard.
So, it's shocking to me that some are saying that their views have not been heard. I think a lot of this is politics. I remember I was on, and I think it was the Don Lemon show, with David Gergen at the time. Excuse me, let me make -- maybe it was Alan Dershowitz, it was.
And he said, listen, this is political. These women are going to disappear after the campaign, which they did. They absolutely disappeared, but now, they have come back because the political atmosphere.
And I, you know, that politics is bringing them out more than substance. I do believe that they should have their day, but I think that we have heard a lot from them, so to say they weren't heard last year is ridiculous.
COOPER: I'm not sure it's fair to say they disappeared. It's not like they were in a closet with moth-balls somewhere. I mean, they have been living their lives, but people haven't been asking them for interviews.
Stuart, why should anyone expect the president to cede ground on a controversy that he already made it through, frankly?
STUART STEVENS, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, some of us still hold out for decency. It seems to be not in season very much. We'll see what happens in Alabama tomorrow.
Listening to Sarah Sanders, she sounds like the country lawyer who has a client accused of murdering a family of four and killing their dog and she's producing a dog and denying everything. I mean, this is just really not very complicated.
The president said on the "Access Hollywood" tape, then Donald Trump said, this is what he does. These women have come forward and said, yes, he did it. Of course, he did it. I mean, everybody who has run for office before who didn't have women come forward like this, they know that it's not just politics, because otherwise, it would be happening in all these other elections, and it's not.
This is just something that Donald Trump brought on himself by what he has said and what he has done.
CARPENTER: Hey, Anderson, can I tell you something that I wonder. Let's say Roy Moore wins tomorrow.
[20:10:02] There's already a number of Republicans on record saying that his past behavior should be investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee. So, tell me, how will those same Republican leaders be able to say at the same time, no, we shouldn't investigate Donald Trump's past behavior, because that's what these women are calling for? If you're going to investigate one, you're probably going to have to investigate the other.
I don't doubt the Republicans' ability to engage in, you know, rhetorical gymnastics to find a way to avoid doing so, but that's going to hand the Democrats a big political weapon because I think -- I think they overstepped by calling for the resignation, because I think for just political reasons, you should probably have somewhere to go. But if they keep the focus on investigations and if there is going to be an investigation against Roy Moore, the Democrats are going to have a very good argument in saying that Republicans should also direct that same kind of power towards Donald Trump's past behavior. There is a steady stream of women who are on camera right now, who appear very willing to tell their stories. And a lot of comments from Donald Trump on tape, his own words. That reflect very poorly on them.
KINGSTON: I would say --
COOPER: Jack, before you talk, I want to point out that that's Steve Bannon talking right now live at a Roy Moore rally. Doug Jones is also having a rally. You saw Charles Barkley there appearing for Doug Jones.
But go ahead, Jack.
KINGSTON: Let me say this. Amanda, it actually does appear they're too eager to get on TV. Gloria Allred, it's practically predictable. And I would love to know, where y have asked the question, how many of her cases have actually won. How many have been brought to court, or is she just a photo-op lawyer.
COOPER: I would also point out, Gloria Allred is not representing all these women. Jessica Leeds just, you know, wrote a letter to "The New York Times," didn't expect it to get much pickup, and I have interviewed her twice. It's not as if Gloria Allred is trotting out everybody.
KINGSTON: Well --
CARPENTER: And also --
KINGSTON: But there is this kind of political circus atmosphere to it, I think if people were serious, for example, let's take Senator Gillibrand.
COOPER: How would it be best for women to come forward in a political environment without it turning into a political story?
KINGSTON: I think if they have a case, they ought to do it through a lawyer.
COOPER: Like Gloria Allred?
CARPENTER: But why hasn't Donald Trump sued them then?
KINGSTON: I don't know what she does besides having press conferences. I may be wrong.
COOPER: She does have a lot of press conferences. She also sues people and stuff.
KINGSTON: Yes, I know. It would be wonderful to say, listen, I have sued and won successfully. I know what I'm doing, as opposed to I know how to have press conferences and farm this out, and these women have disappeared for a year.
But let me say this. What about the senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand? She criticized Bill Clinton one day and then she absolutely totally backtracked and now she's trying to double down by coming out hard on Donald Trump.
If she was so serious about this, why did she back off, and we'll all admit, she ran like a scalped dog when the criticism came. How dare you talk about Bill Clinton, who by the way, made you what you are, and you have had -- you have enjoyed his donations, his photo ops and everything else. But she suddenly dropped Bill Clinton.
COOPER: Stuart, what do you make of Amanda's thought if senators are talking about having some sort of hearings or further discussion on Roy Moore, if he's elected, how do they not do that for the president?
STEVENS: They absolutely should. I mean, this is just sort of basic common sense. Of course, they should. And be very difficult not to do that. You need a forum for these women to be able to air their grievances, more than just a one hit on television. Of course, we should.
And you know, this idea that somehow the American people spoke to this issue because Donald Trump won the Electoral College, I admire that spin. I won't say that I haven't used that kind of spin myself before, but both of the other guests on the show worked for Senator Cruz. Donald Trump attacked Senator Cruz's wife. I don't think they would say that there was serious approval of what he did by the fact that Donald Trump won the Electoral College.
And it's just -- give him credit for trying it, but it's a bad spin and doesn't get away from sort of the basic decency of this. It's sort of like this bargaining against yourself on decency. You always end up selling yourself cheap.
KINGSTON: Let me say another thing, Anderson. We're seeing it in Alabama. It's actually relevant, but for conservatives, there is a little bit of a persecution complex. And there's often evidence that shows that. Duke lacrosse, Rolling Stone and the University of Virginia. Brian Ross recently. And Dan Rather on the eve of the election, his October surprise about National Guard and George Bush.
And we have seen so many times in the conservative camps that on the eve of an election, something happens, and the October surprise concept is a Democrat concept. It wasn't a Republican concept.
COOPER: So you think Roy Moore is being persecuted?
[20:15:01] KINGSTON: I believe that that's part of the reason that people are going to go to the polls, Anderson. I really do. Because why wasn't "The Washington Post" trickling that out during the Luther Strange primary.
COOPER: Amanda, I mean, just from a political standpoint, I'm pretty sure politicians of all stripes suffer from October surprises or feel like they are being persecuted. I think the Clintons felt like they were being persecuted by "The New York Times," even though Republicans might find it laughable I think to the Clintons. That's the way they view it, just the way somebody feels doesn't mean it's real.
CARPENTER: Yes, I mean, I get that the whole persecution thing is used to get out the vote for conservative voters to build up this mentality that we're in this together. We have to band together and fight back. I mean, that's a big argument into this election.
But there's a spotlight on this election. And in the last hour, I watched some speakers at this rally, and, you know, I'm a Christian. I believe in God. I have many of the same values these Alabama voters.
But to watch people go to the podium and say that they hate you, they're out to tear you down and destroy you, I don't understand that coming from, you know, a Christian viewpoint where it's supposed to be about love and unity and optimism and faith. That's really off putting. And if we as a party are going to court evangelical voters with this barricade persecution mentality, man, I just think that's a big step back, and it's going to be a detriment in the end and turns off a lot more people than it brings in.
COOPER: Stuart, you know, again, I think both sides at one time or another, and all politicians feel like they're being persecuted or treated unfairly, it is interesting the extent Roy Moore and his supporters, the groups they have blamed for a variety of allegations that have been made. I mean, everybody from Mitch McConnell and mainstream Democrats, the DNC, to, you know, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, to in their words, radical homosexuals, transgendered groups, as well criminals, I think that's -- I think there maybe those are the ones that come to mind.
STEVENS: Anderson, I am very nostalgic for when the Republican Party used to be the party of personal responsibility. There was a time not so long ago when the Republican Party used to mock people who wouldn't take responsibility for their actions. And used it to try to construct an argument of how less government is better if people will take responsibility.
That is completely gone out of the window here. Now what we're saying is as long as you deny something, you didn't do it. This is just not a message that parents teach their children, that teachers teach students, that coaches teach athletes. I mean, if what's happening with Roy Moore happened to Nick Saban at the University of Alabama, he would be gone in a second. I just don't understand why even probably the greatest football coach college seen today should have a higher standard than a United States senator, even though Nick Saban makes a lot more money.
COOPER: Stuart Stevens, Amanda Carpenter, Jack Kingston, I appreciate it.
Coming up next, we'll take you on the trail for one of the most controversial and consequential campaigns we've ever seen certainly at the state level.
And later, you'll hear from one of four senators now calling on the president to resign. Democrats as well as one independent.
That and more when we continue.
[20:21:23] COOPER: As we said at the top of the broadcast, a stark choice tomorrow in Alabama, even for the senior senator from that state, Richard Shelby, a Republican, a conservative Republican, saying, quote, I couldn't vote for Roy Moore. The state of Alabama deserves better.
Our political panel weighs in momentarily. But, first, live reports from the campaign trail. CNN's Alex Marquardt and Caitlin Collins. Starting with Alex at a Doug Jones event in Birmingham.
So, how is the Doug Jones event feeling heading into final hours now before polls open?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Doug Jones has taken the stage behind me. The big message that he's been pounding tonight, the rallies we have seen over the past few days, is he needs everybody to get out and vote. They need as many people to vote for them as possible. This is an incredibly tight race.
He hammers Roy Moore relentlessly, not just for the controversies that have swirled around him for the last 40 years but, of course, for these allegations of sexual misconduct and child molestation.
And in the past few days, we've also heard Jones going after Moore for being MIA, for not campaigning. We haven't seen Roy Moore on the campaign trail since last Tuesday. He -- there have been reports that Moore went to the Army/Navy game this weekend in Philadelphia.
So, today, we heard Jones accusing him of fleeing the state and saying that Moore has no sense of duty to the people of Alabama. But what really excites Doug Jones supporters is that this is a unique opportunity. This is the first time in a quarter century that they have a chance of sending a Democrat to the Senate.
Now, there is an argument to be made that Moore doesn't need to campaign as much. He's got this passionate base who will turn out tomorrow no matter what. But -- and Doug Jones in turn has to pick up as many votes as possible, and there are a lot of votes out there for the taking. So, they have been relentlessly targeting moderate Republicans, particularly women, as well as the African-American electorate, who will be absolutely crucial -- Anderson.
COOPER: There have been some big names out on the campaign trail for Doug Jones, right?
MARQUARDT: Some of the biggest. In terms of at least the names, we have heard that Barack Obama, former president, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden have recorded robocalls that are going out to Alabama voters. In terms of the people who appeared here in Alabama, not just some of the biggest names in the Democratic Party, but some of the biggest African-American politicians, including former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, the current New Jersey senator, Cory Booker, and that is because that African-American electorate is so important.
Just to give you a sense of the uphill battle that Jones faces, he needs a similar turnout to Barack Obama's in the 2012 presidential race. This is a special election, in an off year, in the middle of December. So, that's a really tall order -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Alex Marquardt, thanks very much.
Let's go now to Kaitlan Collins with the Moore campaign in Midland City, Alabama.
What's Roy Moore's closing message?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Anderson, we're expecting him to stick with the same rhetoric that he's used during the entire campaign. It really mirrors the same rhetoric President Trump used on the campaign trail, that whole drain the swamp thing. In fact, in this rally in this barn happening behind me right now where the former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is currently speaking, they've got fake alligators, moss, they're really going into that theme. They're going after the establishment.
And we're told by a campaign official that we can expect Roy Moore to do the same tonight. We're also expecting him to really hit Doug Jones hard, highlighting what he says are his liberal policies tonight. And it really mirrors the Trump playbook, and what will be interesting if Roy Moore does win tomorrow, is if his officials do stick with that same messaging.
We saw the White House use today about the president's sexual assault allegations where they say, oh, he denied them. The voters knew about them, and they still voted for him anyways.
[20:25:03] And they also happened a long time ago.
But we're hearing from Steve Bannon right now. He just went after Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That's whose seat Roy Moore is hoping to win tomorrow, because as you know, Anderson, Jeff Sessions has said that he believes the women here.
COOPER: Kaitlan, Roy Moore did not campaign as Alex mentioned at all this past weekend, right?
COLLINS: That's right. We have not seen Roy Moore since last Tuesday when he held a rally with Steve Bannon, and his campaign hasn't responded to calls and texts about what exactly it was he was doing in the last few days leading up to this election. It's quite unusual for a candidate in a closely contested race to not hold any public events with supporters or reporters, especially when it's a race as close as this, Anderson.
And I can't stress just how stunning it is that we're even talking about the possibility of a Democratic win in a state that is as conservative as Alabama is here.
COOPER: Yes. Kaitlan Collins, lot to watch for in the next 24 hours. Thanks very much.
And perspective now from CNN senior political analyst David Gergen and our chief political correspondent Dana Bash.
So, Dana, Roy Moore, as we said, really nowhere to be found over the weekend. I mean, was that pure strategy? Is that a sign that they feel good about where the polls are, or just -- you know, just want to avoid any mistakes in the final week?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I really feel it's more the latter, to avoid mistakes, to kind of keep a low profile and not make the issues that he has, the very real issues that he has, even worse. The focus has been and is continuing to be the base that is and has always supported Roy Moore, the ones that put him into the nomination seat.
You remember, he beat not one but two Republicans in a primary, first a primary and then a runoff to get to this point. And to kind of do things like you saw over the weekend with the president having a robocall out there. Obviously, you see tonight, you are going to see and hear from Roy Moore, the evening before people actually go to the polls.
But it certainly doesn't feel to me in talking to sources that it's because he feels comfortable he's going to easily win. I think it's because he just is in a do no harm mode.
COOPER: David, I mean, the fact the other Republican senator from Alabama, Senator Richard Shelby said he would rather see a Republican write-in win and he couldn't and didn't vote for Moore, I'm wondering what kind of impact? I mean, could that give Republican voters there cover they need, either to not vote for Moore or to not come out and vote?
DAVID BERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it was a definite lift for the Jones forces when he came out. But it's offset to some degree I think by the Trump coming down to Florida and campaigning for him, doing robocalls.
I just -- at this point, we don't know. The polls are over the place. I don't think we have any way of saying for certain what exactly is happening. We'll have to wait and see the dynamics.
What we do know is there are huge stakes involved for a Senate race, for an off-year Senate race. I mean, this is really a test of Donald Trump, is he as strong as many people say he is, or is he -- have his coattails gotten a lot shorter and he's in a weaker position.
It's very important for women who feels Roy Moore has molested and is a pedophile, and it's a test by the voters about whether that's acceptable or not. A test that that would be run in the context of President Trump when this is over. It's a huge test for the establishment of the Republican Party, and that's represented by Shelby, versus the Bannon forces, you know?
And, of course, Alabama is so conservative. It does have in the cities, you know, some liberal elements, and it's got some -- it's gotten to be a state that is more progressive than it used to be, but it's the fifth most conservative state in the country. After Wyoming and Oklahoma and North Dakota and Mississippi, here sits Alabama.
And if a Democrat can win in such a red state, that sends a huge message about the volatility and the unpredictability and the prospects for what Democrats can do if they come together.
COOPER: You know, Dana, something else that Senator Shelby talked about, this time to "The Washington Post," was that a Moore win could actually hurt Alabama's reputation as a state. I'm wondering how much that may end up impacting voters.
BASH: It's really interesting, and it's a good question because this whole notion of Alabama pride and don't you in Washington or anyone else in the country come in and tell us how to vote, has been the line that we have heard from Roy Moore and Roy Moore supporters. This is a different angle on the same tactic. And you know, do you really want this state of Alabama, the state that has done very well with big companies coming in like Honda, for example, and setting up plants, and making Alabama a home, an economic home, an economic base, whether or not that is going to be heard.
And to hear someone like Richard Shelby, who is never mind that he said he didn't vote for Roy Moore, but is somebody who the people of Alabama have trusted implicitly to help them. He's very, very popular back in Alabama. That could have an impact. It really could.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And what about the robocall David from former President Obama? I mean African-American voters make up a significant amount the electorate. The critical for turnout there and there's a lot riding on turnout by out?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I just don't know, President Obama, you know, an off-year elections, hasn't had much success at this sort of thing, you know, getting the black vote out. You know, in this last election, they didn't come out anywhere near the same number. When he's on the ballot, he's able to get a lot of African-Americans in southern states to come out in places like North Carolina, Virginia, and so forth. But when he's not on the ballot, it's always been a test. And I think this is much less of a test than Obama than it is of Trump.
But nonetheless, it is a test for 2018 and whether the Democratic Party and President Obama can actually rally black voters and get that wave that they're all hoping they can get two years from now.
BASH: You know, can I just add one quick thing on that? Condoleezza Rice, who was President Bush's secretary of state, a Republican, is a native of Alabama, has just put a statement into the Alabama press, a website down there, talking about.
COOPER: al.com. BASH: al.com. Thank you. Talking about the need for black voters to go out and support the Democrat, Doug Jones. And that, I think, in addition to, you know, Barack Obama and other black leaders from Washington who went down over the weekend to try to galvanize the black vote, that's a big deal. But to have Condoleezza Rice, who is also not very political, historically, to get involved, it shows you how worried the Republican Party is about the notion of Roy Moore being the sort of political albatross around their necks for the next however many years. Not just in 2018, the next time everybody is on the ballot in the House and a third of the Senate, but that he is going to be the poster child for the Republican Party if any Democrat has their way.
COOPER: David Gergen, Dana Bash, thanks very much.
Up next, the growing group of senators who are calling for President Trump's resignation, sighting sexual misconduct allegations against him. We're going to hear from three of his female accusers, they spoke to a press conference.
Also, a terror attack in New York City, a pipe bomb in a massive transit hub at rush hour. Officials say it could have been much worse. What they're saying about the attack, coming up.
[20:36:28] COOPER: The last segment, we referenced the statement that Condoleezza Rice put on al.com. I just want to read you that statement. It doesn't reference Doug Jones by name, but I just want to read you the wording. She said, "I encourage you to take a stand for our core principles and for what is right. These critical times requires to comes together and reject bigotry, sexism, and intolerance." Rice went on to say, "It's imperative for Americans to remain focus on our priorities and not give way to side shows and antics. I know that Alabamians need an independent voice in Washington but we must also insist that our representatives are dignified, decent and respectful values we hold dear." Continued on, saying, "Please exercise your right to vote, a privilege won by the sacrifices of our ancestors, sustain the central ideals and values that make our country a beacon for freedom and justice for the sake of Alabama and for the good of the United States of America."
As we mentioned earlier today, three of President Trump's accusers joined forces in a press conference to detail their account to being grope fundable (ph) and forcibly kiss by him. They also had a message about this larger movement surrounding sexual harassment and assault that's been playing out over the last few weeks.
SAMANTHA HOLVEY, PRES. TRUMP ACCUSER: What I'm more concerned about is as a culture in our country, what is acceptable behavior, and if the standard that our president is setting, it's not high enough right now.
JESSICA LEEDS, PRES. TRUMP ACCUSER: It became apparent that in some areas, the accusations of sexual aggression were being taken seriously. And people were being held accountable. Except for our president.
RACHEL CROOKS, PRES. TRUMP ACCUSER: Make no mistake, there is no acceptable level of such behavior. That some men think they can use their power, position, or notoriety to demean and attack women speaks to their character, not ours.
COOPER: Well Senator Jeff Merkley is one of a handful of senators, none of them Republican, now calling on President Trump's resignation. Joining (ph) us, Senators Cory Borker, Ron Wyden, and Kirsten Gillibrand. They're cited these multiple accusations of sexual harassment assault. I spoke to him just before here's our conversation.
COOPER: Senator, you've said this is not about politics. But what is it about, then? Because I mean the fact of the matter is the White House continues to deny these allegations, as the president does. The Republican controlled Congress doesn't seem to have any appetite for what you and some of your Democratic colleagues are calling for.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY, (D) OREGON: Anderson, you have more than 40 senators who have called on Al Franken to step down. And when you think about that and compare his conduct with the president, the president has grabbed women's butts, he has grabbed their breasts, he has grabbed them on their genitals. He has bragged about doing so, he has pushed them up against walls. He walked in on multiple women when they were in various states of undress. And you combine these multiple stories, that now I think there are more than 18 such stories, these are very, very consistent. This is serious sexual harassment and misconduct. And he should be held just as accountable as a member of the Senate.
COOPER: You know, obviously, he denies all of these allegations. The other part of this is that voters knew about these allegations before the election, and yet president Trump obviously was elected. Is that not a valid point? Hasn't the American public spoken on this?
MERKLEY: I think that it's so important that these women have a full chance to present their cases. Each time during the campaign they presented their case, often it was just a mention on the evening news. It was the president's team often didn't even respond. In fact, why don't we have a hearing in which all of these women could come forward and tell their stories, in which those that can corroborate their stories can share that information.
[20:40:00] So that the American public can really see how horrific his conduct has been. And I think when they see that, and when they realize that they're calling on many people are or calling on Al Franken's accountability, for accountability and Roy Moore for accountability, certainly the president should be accountable too. COOPER: Your colleague Senator Gillibrand called for the president to resign immediately called for congressional investigation if he declines to do so. Should there be -- I mean in terms about hearings. Do you think there should be a congressional investigation into these allegations?
MERKLEY: Well, I think it would be very good to have that. The Republicans will not do that. But perhaps we can hold a shadow hearing in which all these women can have the attention of the country and have a fair chance to share their story. I know many of them who have spoken after the election have said how absolutely horrific they felt that their stories were not given due account during the campaign, that the American people didn't pay attention. Let's make sure they have a fair chance to tell their complete stories before the public.
COOPER: You clearly believe all of the women?
MERKLEY: Well, I certainly believe that when you have so many women, and the stories are so similar, and they weren't coordinated in any way in advance, that is certainly, as it is laid out, I do believe -- I can't say I believe each and every one of them individually because I don't know the full background, but I believe, as a group, absolutely I believe them.
COOPER: Senator Jeff Merkley, I appreciate your time.
MERKLEY: You're welcome.
COOPER: Thank you very much.
MERKLEY: Thank you.
COOPER: When we come back tonight, a "New York Times" piece from this weekend outlines the president's private behavior in the White House, including watching hours upon hours of cable news a day and drinking a dozen diet cokes. We'll discuss that with a friend of the president's plus his biographer, next.
COOPER: A big "New York Times" piece from this weekend has been raising a lot of eyebrows, certainly, citing interviews with 60 advisers, friends, and even members of Congress. The "Times" reported that the president watches four to eight hours of television a day, mostly cable news. The reporters write the president is, "Marinating in a no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back." Overall the "Times" characterizes his presidency this way writing, "For Mr. Trump, every day is an hour-by-hour battle for self- preservation."
Joining me now to discuss, Chris Ruddy a friend of the president who speaks to frequently, and Michael D'Antonio, the president's biographer. I want to read you Chris something from this piece that stood out, it said, for most of the year, people inside and outside of Washington are convinced that there is a strategy behind Mr. Trump's actions, tough words, but there are seldom a plan apart from preemption, self defense, obsession and impulse.
Tough words, but I'm wondering if you agree overall the idea that there may not in some in his -- some of his actions, his tweets, for instance, there might not be an overarching long term strategy, but it is more of a day-to-day battle.
[20:45:02] CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, FRIEND OF PRES. TRUMP: I think everybody realizes now, Anderson, he's a gut instinct guy, and he's a guy that fights back from the gut. Right? He responds from the gut. And sometimes that works really well. I think a lot of people and through his career, it's worked really well in reality TV and in business. And in politics, people loved his candidness. But sometimes he'll say things controversial, he'll say things that are unscripted.
Look at most presidencies. Most presidencies are 95% scripted. Obama, as you know, teleprompters even for some brief remarks. Donald Trump is the other way, he wants 95% unscripted. And he performs really well in that environment, except he also can get in trouble because say things that just come to mind.
COOPER: Well, that is, you know, the extraordinary thing about the presidency and whether you agree with it or not, is that most presidents, to Chris' point, not only are scripted but in a bubble, protected, you know, not just physically, but politically in all ways. That the president's immediate initial thoughts are not known to the general public. It goes through layers, and it's all -- the words are, you know, sent to the State Department, all -- but this president, I mean, because of Twitter and other things, you have a realtime Rorschach test of what's going on in his head at any given moment, whenever he wants it to be known.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, PRES. TRUMP'S BIOGRAPHER: Well, I think you're right. I think the president has been acting this way, as Chris said, probably his whole life. He has a real sense of drama, and this is something that emerged in the "New York Times" piece as well. That he almost frames his day as an episode in a TV show.
COOPER: That was one of the quotes I think in the "Times", that he told people on the staff, like that's how you should view, every day is like this.
D'ANTONIO: But he's in the news cycle, and we also have noticed that when he gives a speech, and he's impromptu, he'll often lead with, did you see in the news today? Did you see this development happened? He'll almost be reporting to the people watching, who are his folks. And I think he likes to drive the events. More than reacting to them, I think he tries to drive them.
COOPER: It is interesting Chris that when he denies and he watches so much TV. I mean just by his tweets, they're often in direct response to things that have been on Fox and Friends or other TV shows.
RUDDY: So I would describe that "New York Times" piece is not as a hit piece, but it's a distorted piece. So I have been with him, I have traveled with him on his plane. So he watches television there. He's watching it like we might have background music in our home. Oftentimes, I think it's on the mute. He's having conversations, he's going through memos. You mentioned earlier about the bubble. This guy is probably the least in the bubble president, because he's just an information junky. He's just getting -- he's on the phone all day. I don't know how he can move watching television because he spends a few hours everyday on the phone. He's meeting with people and official events. It's humanly impossible for him to be sitting eight hours.
COOPER: But when you say on the phone, on the phone with friends --
COOPER: Sort of taking the temperature of things, like how are things playing out there?
RUDDY: Absolutely. And the idea that he's not getting negative feedback, I would say he's a feedback junky too. He loves to hear what people are thinking. It's a myth that he doesn't like criticism. He doesn't like personal attacks, but he's very open to criticism. I'm sure people like General Kelly give him feedback on tweets and other things that he's hearing. But at the end of the day, he decides for himself. I'm sure on the Jerusalem issue, a lot of people probably told him not to do it, but he made the decision on that.
COOPER: My sense of him, I mean just that, you know, the times I interviewed him during the campaign, and that's really the only time I've known him, I met him once or twice I think before as a citizen, is that if he feels you're coming from a decent place, a fair place, you can make criticism, you can ask tough questions. You can be critical of things he says, and as long as he feels like it's -- like you're a decent person being fair to him, then that's OK. Do you think -- is that your--
D'ANTONIO: I think Chris and I both had that experience. The problem is he does take things personally. He's not the fellow who goes out and gathers all the facts about a situation, weighs them, and then gives equal weight to them and makes his decision. I think he will make a decision, a strong decision, after that information gathering, but then he sticks with it, and he's almost insulted if you challenge that position. You know, this may seem like an affront to him. Like I'm the decider, you guys are supposed to execute or if you're in the press, you're supposed to report it. I'm not sure that the criticism rolls off him as easily as it might someone else.
RUDDY: He's changed his position on a number of things, so it's another myth that I think that he doesn't. He's open to feedback, maybe initially he might have some pushback, but the other thing about it is we never really talk about the accomplishments. You know, he's -- you know, CNN, he knows, criticizes him. And I think he can live with that. Gallup, look, best consumer index in history for small business, for consumer confidence, stock market. That never gets any air time. You know he's compassion --
[20:50:05] COOPER: I should also point out the illegal immigration down with more than 60% or something really just by the Gallup alone, now you can argue the White House step on that a lot it hasn't done enough of the job.
RUDDY: And the terror attack today was partly could chain migration which we say one illegal immigrant, one immigrant brings in seven relatives and they're not going through proper vetting, he saying, let's put a new system. He was out front on that, because he get any credit for that. No.
COOPER: I got -- I do want to ask you setup minor, as a person who's trying to win himself off diet coke and his down to about one a day, I'm actually switch to coke zero. Is it true he drinks 12 diet cokes a day? Or I think 12.
RUDDY: I know he likes diet cokes, but let me say this, Warren Buffet brags that he drinks 12 cherry cokes a day --
RUDDY: But everybody at the business forces, wow what a great American, he drinks 12 cherry cokes. When Donald Trump drinks 12 diet cokes, oh there's something wrong here.
COOPER: I know I think former heavy drinker I'm a little concern, 12, that's a lot.
RUDDY: Probably better than 12 shots of Jack Daniels everyday.
COOPER: Well, I'll give you that. Chris Ruddy, always good to have you on, Michael D'Antonio, thank you very much.
Coming up, terrifying momentous here in New York City, man, the bomb strapped to his body detonates the device during the morning rush hour, terror attack. A law enforcement story says the terrorist pledge allegiance to ISIS. What else we know about him, next.
COOPER: We've got breaking news on this morning's bomb attack here in New York City. A law enforcement official says the suspected terrorist who detonated the pipe bombs strap to his body, has pledge allegiance to ISIS. Here's the suspect just moments after the attack is close, shredded by the blast. The man who's a Bangladesh of descent has hospitalized with the injuries, five other people were wounded. Here's the moment it happens and after the blast there was chaos obviously, smoke quickly filled the busy subway corridor near Times Square.
CNN's Jason Carroll joins us with more. So, what more details have you learned?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's first Anderson talk about the device or should we say devices that the suspect use. Law enforcement sources tell CNN that there were actually two devices. One that detonate it, partially detonated. The other did not. The one that partially detonated was the one that as you say was attached to his body and it was a pipe about a foot long. It contained of black powders, screws.
[20:54:59] It also contained nails, a battery. Again, this was a device that partially detonated. No information on the second device, but obviously given where this happened, given the timing in terms of when it happened. You can understand why law enforcement sources say, this could have been much, much worst.
COOPER: Do -- authorities understand why exactly -- I mean he chose the location he did to set off the device obviously, you know, it's a crowded time in a busy place.
CARROLL: Yes. Well there are couple things. First of all, this is a suspect who work near by in a electrical work nearby. So he was very familiar with Port Authority, at one point, he had a license to drive a liberty cab here and the city that license expired in 2015. So he's very familiar with the city.
Also, very, very clear from what we're hearing from investigators that, look and, you know, an attack on the subway system is what they called the nightmare scenario. Lot of people are well aware of that. This is person with pledge his allegiance to ISIS, upset about things going on in Israel. So, as investigator continue to talk to the suspect, talk to those who knew him like his brother who worked with him here near Port Authority, they're going to be learning more about his motive. Anderson.
COOPER: You know, what are authority are saying about how and why he came back to the U.S., back in the -- in 2011?
CARROLL: Right, came here in 2011, came here from Bangladesh under the Extended Family Chain Migration Program. Belong sure of that, because this is a program where if you try to come to the United States, you have family that's already living here, your giving -- your given preferential treatment in some cases under this particular program. That's how he was able to come here in 2011, get that green card. It's a program as you know, our President Trump has been very vocal in terms of trying to end. Anderson?
CARROLL: Yes. Jason Carroll, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
That Alabama U.S. Senate candidates Roy Moore and Doug Jones make their final pitches to voters tonight, on stage now Roy Moore's wife, the candidate getting ready to speak, more ahead.
[21:00:12] COOPER: Welcome, breaking news tops the hour.