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President's Lawyers Could Meet One-On-One With Mueller; Southern California, Still Burning Nearly Two Weeks After A Wildfire First Ignited; Senator Kamala Harris Joined Other Democratic Senators Including Bernie Sanders, Calling For The President To Resign. Aired 7:00-8:00p ET
Aired December 16, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:10] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being here.
So much of California is in flames, and this is not a figure of speech. Twelve days straight of roaring wildfires. And despite emergency crews pounding these fires non-stop, they are still nowhere near contained. It is windy. It's dry and that's the worst thing to hear when nearly 260,000 acres of forestland is gone. Hundreds of homes and buildings with it.
Right now, thousands more people are following the orders to evacuate to find somewhere safe. The fires already killed at least two people. One of them a firefighter. It's not under control soon, this could become the biggest and most destructive wildfire in California history. Coming up, we will take you live to the edge of this fire.
Also new tonight, President Trump's attorney insisting in a new statement that there are no plans to fire special counsel, Robert Mueller. Now he is the former FBI director now leading the Russia investigation.
This is coming as CNN learns the President's lawyers could meet one- on-one with Mueller himself. Sources tell CNN the two teams are planning to sit down and discuss the investigation as early as this week.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is outside the White House following all these leads for us.
Boris, first to this new statement from the President's lawyer insisting there are no intentions of firing Mueller. Where is this coming from?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ana.
Well, this is actually response to something Democrats have been speculating about now for a few days. It all goes back to statements made by the President and other Republicans about the special council and its legitimacy. The President didn't zero in on the special counsel specifically, but just a few days ago, he talked about the FBI being in a sad state, saying that it was a shame what had happened to the agency. He was alluding to specific messages that had been exchanged between two top FBI officials.
Back in 2016, during the campaign, that were very critical of the President and several other figures, including some Democrats. Both of those officials had since been assigned to this special counsel. One of them had left the special counsel before these text messages were revealed. Another was reassigned by Robert Mueller in light of those text messages.
But in recent day, Republicans have been urging Robert Mueller to resign saying that this investigation is now tainted because those messages reveal a certain degree of prejudice and partisanship.
Democrats in response have been mounting a call to protect Robert Mueller so to speak. You had two Democrats on the house intelligence committee just yesterday, Adam Schiff for one, saying that he believe that had the President was preparing to fire Robert Mueller. And then Jackie Speier spoke to a TV station in San Francisco in which she said in part quote "I believe that the President wants to shut all of this down. He wants to shut down these investigations." She's speaking about the ones going on in Congress, "and he wants the fire special counsel Robert Mueller."
In light of these comments from Democrats, we reached out to White House council Ty Cobb, who provided was the following statement. He writes quote "as the White House has consistently said for months, there is no consideration of firing the special counsel."
So Ana, you have the White House denying that there is any plan to fire the special counsel as you have this kind of fighting between the two parties as to whether or not Robert Mueller should resign and if there's any intent for the President to dismiss him -- Ana.
CABRERA: And the time also noteworthy because we are learning the President's legal team could meet with Mueller as early as this week. What are they expected to talk about?
SANCHEZ: That's right, Ana. We should point out that these two sides have met previously and they may meet again. But the real significance of this meeting is the timing because it was just in the last week or so that Robert Mueller wrapped up his interviews with White House personnel and apparently, received all the document documents that had been requested, they were turned over to the special counsel.
The White House is really hoping according to sources close to the legal team, to get some clarity on where Mueller plans to go next with his investigation. Their hope really is that there's a light at the end of the tunnel and that this investigation will wrap up soon, lifting a cloud over this White House. However, they have conceded that Robert Mueller is under no obligation to provide them that kind of information, Ana.
CABRERA: All right. No guarantees. Boris Sanchez at the White House. Thank you. I want to bring in our panel for some perspective. Joining us is Asha
Rangappa, CNN legal and national security analyst and CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd.
So, Asha, what do you make of President Trump's attorney insisting tonight that there are no plans to fire special counsel Robert Mueller?
[19:05:04] ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I'm not surprised that he would insist that they have no plans because obviously, it would create a great outcry if he said that there were plans.
But there are two aspects of this to consider. Right now, I think they are letting the court of public opinion do a lot of the work. We know from the hearing with Rod Rosenstein last week that there was a lot of grilling about potential bias within this investigation. And before he takes any steps, I think there would be -- he would want to make sure that there was some political backing and already some of those people as a reporter mentioned, have called on Mueller to resign.
But the other thing, Ana, is that (INAUDIBLE) actually very hard for him to fire Mueller. He can't do it directly. He has to ask the deputy attorney general who appointed Mueller, that's Rod Rosenstein, to do it. And then if Rod Rosenstein won't, which he said he wouldn't in the hearing last week, then you would have to fire Rosenstein. So it would become you know, a massacre of great proportions. And so it's not something that he would be able to do overnight in the way that he has done with other members of his cabinet and staff until now.
CABRERA: Or even now he did it with Comey when he fired him.
Asha, the other thing that I want to ask you about and give your take on this is President Trump's you know, raising the spectrum now of pardoning Michael Flynn. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We will see what happens. Let's see. I can say this. When you look at what's gone on with the FBI and with the justice department, people are very, very angry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So how do you read the President's attorney now insisting there are no plans to fire Mueller, but yet not clarify what the President just said about Flynn with his we will see.
RANGAPPA: Right. So it's important to understand that the pardon power and firing Mueller really have two different ramifications, politically and legally. So the whole point of the special counsel is to insulate the investigation from outside interference from people who are conflicted within the department of justice from the outside. Of course, he was appointed because Comey was fired.
The pardon power on the other hand is a constitutional prerogative of the President. He can pardon anyone he likes. He has done it with Joe Arpaio which was incredibly controversial as you know. And so, that would not - I mean, he could face a public backlash, but it wouldn't trigger the kind of legal and procedural issues necessarily that firing a special counsel would and he can really do it for any reason he wants. You can do it very quickly.
CABRERA: Samantha, how much weight do you give the President's attorney's statement, given just this week, the President himself was calling the FBI sad and disgraceful and poking holes.
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I'm looking at this from the national security perspective that there's a really worrisome trend emerging. The director of national intelligence has assessed that Putin ordered an influence and messaging campaign against the United States to undermine faith in our Democratic institutions. All these different breads that we are talking about, we are starting to do the Russian's job for them.
CABRERA: The President is starting to do it.
VINOGRAD: The President and his lawyers by saying that we need to investigate the investigators. By calling our own institutions sick and rigged or by having, to Asha's point, a pretty partisan hearing this week with Rod Rosenstein where Republican lawmakers questioned the credibility of our justice department rather than focusing on the real issue of Russia's direct attack on the United States. We are starting to undermine the credibility of our own institutions and that's not our national security interest.
CABRERA: Asha, do you think Putin and others are adversaries are paying attention to what the President says about our intelligence agencies?
RANGAPPA: I think they are absolutely paying attention, Ana. Remember that for Putin, his biggest nemesis in the United States is the FBI. The FBI has a primary counterintelligence mandate. They are the ones that work for intelligence including Putin's SVR which is their agency that operates here.
And on top of that, our CIA, our NSA who operate abroad or using signal intelligence, you know, they are also interfering with you know, his intelligence plan. So when not only to Sam's point that by undermining our - the legitimacy of our institutions, it promotes his goal by showing that we are a failed democratic experiment by undermining our intelligence agency specifically, he basically gets support to shut down the things that would be in his way in his own operations that he is putting forth in our country.
[19:10:05] CABRERA: There's also this new reporting this week, Samantha, from "the Washington Post," that the President has never convened a cabinet level meeting on Russia interference or what to do about it. I mean given your past experience on the national Security Council, how rare would something like this be? VINOGRAD: Very rare. I worked for several years at the White House
and at no point did we ever feel like any topic was off limits. There was no censoring of national security discussion. We had regular internal discussions on Russia policy. We have regular intelligence updates on Russia. Russia is basic good housekeeping. And now we are in a period where we have come under direct Russian attack. We still may be under Russian attack. And we are hearing that the President just doesn't want to discuss Russia which means he is not getting the most up to date information on threats to our country from Russia. And he is also not benefitting, to Asha's point, from a really wholesome national Security Council discussion with the FBI, the NSA, the state department, secretary Tillerson, who has come under more fire this week. And so he is not coming up with an efficient strategy to defer another Russian attack. This is highly unusual and it would be in the best interest of our country not to make any topic off limits.
CABRERA: But I would assume that even with if he is not as engaged, that the national Security Counsel and other people within the administration would be working on some kind of strategy.
VINOGRAD: Yes. Essentially, they would be. We had the national security strategy coming out on Monday, in fact, which one would think would include a large section of Russia because it is a strategic threat. But at the end of the day, a national Security Council meeting is chaired by the President and the President signs off on policy. So there may be ongoing work related to Russia happening, but it doesn't have the President's final read. And the President again is not benefitting from all the input from around the agency.
CABRERA: All right. Ladies, thank you so much. Really great to have you on.
Asha Rangappa and Samantha Vinograd, come back soon.
Still ahead. Watch and wait. Look at these images right now. These are live pictures with thousands in the path of the deadly Thomas fire in California. More evacuations are happening. A lot of people left wondering if they will ever see their homes again. We will take you there in just minutes.
Stay with us. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:16:24] CABRERA: You have to come look at these live pictures right now as we follow breaking news out of Southern California. That region is still burning nearly two weeks after a wildfire first ignited there.
Look at the flames tonight. This is still the biggest threat, the Thomas fire. Now the third largest wildfire in state history. It's a massive fire that has grown to nearly 260,000 acres shutting down several highways in Santa Barbara County. A firefighter died battling the flame this is week and a woman was killed trying to escape this fire. Official ordered another 12,000 people to evacuate just today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE ZANIBONI, SPOKESPERSON, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: I really want to emphasize that people are out in this area. They really need to get out. They really need to get out for their own safety, for firefighter's safety. They need to let firefighters get in there and do their jobs, you know, standing on your roof with a hose right now is not what we need. We need people just to get out of the way. And if you're in there and if feel uncomfortable right now, then please leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: National correspondent Miguel Marquez is joining us live from Santa Barbara County, where the Thomas fire is still burning.
Miguel, it does not look good. Do fire officials expect o to have to order more evacuations?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's looking miserable right now. I have to tell you. We spoke to you an hour and a half ago. The wind was started to gust then. It is now steady at 20, perhaps even higher. What they were expecting tonight was 20 mile an hour top winds to 11:00 p.m. pacific and from then on, up to 30 miles per hour, but it seems those Santa Ana winds are coming already. We are in if foothills above Santa Barbara. These are spot fires. You can maybe make out the sun through the smoke. That looks like clouds. It's not. It's all smoke.
Swing around up here and look at the smoke in the air. And if you go all the way back around to where the Thomas fire is burning, you can just see this massive column of smoke that has started to come up here. If you come around all the way to this side, you can see these firefighters down here. This is another spot fire they have been working on just down here. And then over this way. This is a fire that's just blown up in the last 15 minutes as this wind, this really intense wind is actually hard to stand up in it at times because it's blowing so hard.
Firefighters saying that they have ordered these evacuations because this is it. If they can survive this night with this Thomas fire, they think they will be able to get on top of it and those winds will start to die down. They have been working very, very hard over the last week trying to put it out. They were able to burn some backfires in this area earlier in the week when winds were favorable to them. But now, the Santa Anas are back. And tonight, all bets are off -- Ana.
CABRERA: Oh my God. So sad to see that.
Miguel, because of the winds and because of the dry, dry land there, obviously it's been extremely challenging for those firefighters, but what is the outlook?
MARQUEZ: Well, look. It's extraordinarily dry. Under 10 percent humidity for most of the last month. No rain in sight. And these winds just whipping. It is not great. I have to admit. Firefighters earlier said they were expecting 20 mile hour gusts up until 11:00 p.m. tonight. Now, it looks like they are getting pretty steady winds, especially in these canyon here, very, very heavy winds right now. And it was, is only going to get heavier tonight. If firefighters can survive this night and keep these fires away, they will have dodged a giant bullet -- Ana.
[19:20:09] CABRERA: Miguel Marquez, please be careful. Thank you for that report.
Now residents in Beattyville, Kentucky, they voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump a year ago because he gave them hope. Just ahead, we will go back to the town that once earned the unfortunate distinction of being the poorest white town in America to see how people are feeling ant this presidency and to see how their lives have changed.
Stay with us. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:25:02] CABRERA: How are Trump supporters feeling almost a year into his presidency?
CNN's Poppy Harlow investigates.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana.
Nearly a year ago, we took you to Beattyville, Kentucky in the heart of Trump country. More than 80 percent of the people there voted for President Trump with high hope that he would bring change. Unemployment there is still nearly twice national average. More than half of the people Beattyville live below the poverty line and a majority are on Medicaid. So we went, we asked them, do they still believe the President can bring meaningful change.
HARLOW: Welcome back to Beattyville, Kentucky. President Trump won 81 percent of the vote in this county. When we came here right after the inauguration, there was a lot of hope. People were betting that President Trump could turn things around for them here. Bring back jobs and prosperity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The day of the election. Everybody was excited. Fresh meat in the White House.
HARLOW: So we have come back a year later to find out if the President has lived up to their hopes.
Are you getting that change you voted for yet?
LEGHANDRA SHOUSE, VOTED FOR TRUMP: I am seeing attempted change. I'm still hopeful. I mean, I don't think any of the problems that we have is going to be quick fixes.
HARLOW: Harold and Leghandra Shouse live in Beattyville, Kentucky, with their three daughters. Leghandra is an artist. Harold is a mason. He drives two hours each way to and from work because the best paying job he could find around here only paid $11 an hour.
It's steady work, but he is making less than he was a year ago. They invited us to this family meal. Nearly a year after we first met them following the election.
L. SHOUSE: We were the ones that kind of fell in the crack.
HARLOW: Can Donald Trump help you?
L. SHOUSE: We will see.
HAROLD SHOUSE, VOTED TRUMP: If he can bring some jobs in here.
L. SHOUSE: He has insurance. I don't have insurance.
HARLOW: Now, she is still hopeful, but still without health insurance.
Did you try to sign up for Obamacare this year?
L. SHOUSE: Yes, I checked and it was like $600.
HARLOW: Obamacare is too expensive for you, but you guys make too much to qualify for Medicaid.
L. SHOUSE: I'm stuck in the middle.
HARLOW: And you got pretty sick recently.
L. SHOUSE: Yes,
HARLOW: Did you avoid going to the doctor? Check and out for a while because --.
L. SHOUSE: Absolutely. I have lost light 60 pounds in the last six months.
HARLOW: If nothing changes on healthcare, by 2020, does he get your vote again?
L. SHOUSE: There would be a really, really good possibility. Because I see Congress standing in the way more than him.
SARAH SHOUSE, DAUGHTER: I worked six shifts this week. So I'm pretty tired. It's paycheck to paycheck every time.
HARLOW: Their 22-year-old daughter, Sarah, makes them immensely proud. Your hope for them?
L. SHOUSE: That they can find happiness without having to just break their backs like so many people have.
HARLOW: She and their two other daughters are a big reason why they voted for President Trump. They want their children to be able to find good work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a degree in public health and a degree in human services.
HARLOW: You tried to get jobs this this county with your degrees and what happened? What were your offer?
S. SHOUSE: Everything was like $8, $9 an hour.
HARLOW: But you have thousands of dollars in student loan debt.
S. SHOUSE: Yes.
HARLOW: So the system isn't working for you.
S. SHOUSE: No.
HARLOW: Sarah didn't vote, she says. No time because she was working three jobs. But she has been hoping for change. Largely for her parents.
Here you are watching your mom go through this. Not knowing what's wrong and she doesn't have the health care she needs.
S. SHOUSE: It breaks my heart. Like I could cry talking about it. My mom is the best person in the world. Like she said. She would give anything to anybody. And yet she can't get the help she needs. And it's not her fault.
HARLOW: And you can't help her.
S. SHOUSE: I can't do anything to help her.
HARLOW: You don't make enough to pay for that.
S. SHOUSE: No.
HARLOW: Beattyville is a community that is struggling. According to the most recent data, more than half of the people here live below the poverty line and a majority of the people in this county are on Medicaid.
Beattyville has been home for you since you were born.
LARRY PHILLIPS, OWNER, LARRY'S AUTO SHOP: Home sweet home. If you want to get back to nature, Beattyville is where you want to come to.
HARLOW: Larry Phillips is trying to tap into that. Building cabins for tourists.
PHILLIPS: We have the best geological rock climbing area pretty much in the world.
HARLOW: His auto shop is struggling.
PHILLIPS: It's been a steady decline. You have lost some oil. We had a lot of coal mining.
HARLOW: Is that part of why you voted for President Trump?
PHILLIPS: Yes, that was a lot.
HARLOW: This coal facility people kept telling us, reopened after the election. It's nowhere near big enough though to turn this economy around.
How has the President done one year in?
[19:30:00] PHILLIPS: He has done or tried to do more of his promises than any other President.
HARLOW: He has tried. But has he succeeded?
PHILLIPS: No, he has not been able. I mean, it's been one stumbling stone right after.
HARLOW: Who do you blame for getting in his way?
PHILLIPS: A lot of the politicians. The way I see it, he is a normal person, (INAUDIBLE), not a politician. He don't talk like a politician.
HARLOW: He is a billionaire from New York City.
PHILLIPS: He is a billionaire from New York City. He is not a politician.
HARLOW: He is. He is the President.
PHILLIPS: And he is the president.
HARLOW: He is a politician.
PHILLIPS: You know good and well he don't act line one.
HARLOW: What will it take for President Trump to win your vote again in 2020?
PHILLIPS: All he's got to do is run again, honey. He has done got it.
HARLOW: That's it?
PHILLIPS: That's it.
HARLOW: But that's not it for David Coomer. After voting for President Obama twice, he cast his ballot for President Trump.
DAVID COOMER, VOTED FOR TRUMP, VOTED FOR OBAMA TWICE: He is not the man I thought he was. He is not. He is not. He just, he is overbearing. And he's not getting nothing done.
HARLOW: He says he has accomplished more than any President. COOMER: And he has not. He talks the talk, but he won't walk the
walk. When he said that he (INAUDIBLE).
HARLOW: Jobs with a living wage. That's what Coomer says would lift Beattyville up. Not government assistance. For now, he relies on his father's VA benefits to get by as he takes care of his ageing mother.
COOMER: I'm not, I'm 40 right now. If I went to find work, I would have to leave here.
HARLOW: If you look at how much of the population that could be working but is not, what would you say it is in this town?
At least 30 percent, not 35.
HARLOW: That's scary.
COOMER: It is. It's that way in all these little towns.
HARLOW: Something else ripping at the foundation of so many communities including this one, the drug epidemic.
CAMERON BROWN, 18-YEARS-OLD: The drug epidemic in our county weighs back to jobs. Because if there were jobs, people wouldn't feel forced to have to do bad things such as drugs.
HARLOW: 18-year-old Cameron Brown knows all too well.
BROWN: Last summer, there was a bunch of drug related murders that happened and Cameron's dad ended up getting killed. It bothered me real bad so I wrote a song about it. There's plenty of people sitting around praying for a job, you know. It's killing them. They want to work and they want to provide for their family, but they don't have the means.
HARLOW: Kentucky's crackdown on the opioid crisis has landed more people behind bars. So many more while we were here, it was announced a big employer will reopen.
It's the private prison right down here. So yes, it means more jobs here. But it's because of the heartbreaking impact that drugs are having here and across this country.
Does President Trump get credit for the prison reopening?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, shouldn't.
HARLOW: The prospects for the future generations of Beattyville right now. What are they?
CHUCK CAUDILL, VOTED FOR TRUMP: They are grim. They are grim because right now, we are clean to the past. The only way we are going to fix eastern Kentucky is get entrepreneurship, is create jobs by people creating businesses.
HARLOW: And some are.
CAUDILL: And some are.
TARA NEWMAN, OWNER, HIP CHIC BOUTIQUE: It's time that our community is seen in a more positive light and I think that's what my generation and the current leaders of Beattyville have decided to do.
We want to have a community that our children don't have to graduate and leave. We want them to see that you can live here and be happy and successful.
HARLOW: Did you think about leaving?
S. SHOUSE: I have, but I love this town. This town is more than just where I grew up like this town is my family.
L. SHOUSE: We have to learn to support each other. We can't wait for, you know, somebody to pull us out of a hole.
HARLOW: Eighty-one percent of the people here voted for President Trump. What has he brought to Beattyville?
PHILLIPS: Well, he brought hope. Without hope, you have nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People have been optimistic because they wanted Trump to win. They put in an effort. Once they seen he won, they took the initiative, you know, and they done something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are poverty stricken, but happiness is rich here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. If you are happy, you are rich.
HARLOW: My thanks to all of the people that spent time with us in Beattyville, Kentucky. We sincerely appreciate. And my thanks to the great team that worked on this story. Producers do so much behind the camera. Hailey (INAUDIBLE), Claudia Morales, Jordan Molter (ph). Thank you. You can see a lot more of our reporting on CNN money.
Ana, back to you.
CABRERA: Thank you, Poppy.
And we will have more of that reporting here tomorrow night as she takes us to Michigan where President Trump pulled off a stunning victory flipping the state from blue to red for the first time in decades. What are his supporters there think nearly one year in?
Stay tuned. We will be back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:39:34] CABRERA: This week, the "me too" movement became a powerful foil for President Trump. Mr. Trump got elected even after the "Access Hollywood" tape and after at least 15 women came forward with allegations ranging from sexual harassment and sexual assault to lewd behavior around women. Of those women, 13 say the President, before he was President, attacked them directly.
And then this week, proof it is not an issue that is not going away. On Monday, three women who say they were sexually harassed by Trump before he was President called for him to be accountable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:40:08] RACHEL CROOKS, TRUMP ACCUSER: About 12 years ago as a young receptionist in Trump tower, I was forcibly kissed by Mr. Trump during our first introduction. Mr. Trump repeatedly kissed my cheeks and ultimately my lips in an encounter that has since impacted my life.
JESSICA LEEDS, TRUMP ACCUSER: In some areas of our society, people are being held accountable for unwanted behavior. But we are not holding our President accountable for what he is and who he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: The President's response, a tweet, writing in part the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia. So now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don't know and or have never met.
Now on Tuesday, sexual accusations against another man, former Alabama judge and Republican Senate candidate, Roy Moore, played a role in his defeat. The President endorsed Moore, but voters in Alabama chose Democrat, Doug Jones.
Now that same day, the President lashed out in a tweet at Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand who has called for him to resign over the sexual harassment allegations. In his tweet, President Trump said Gillibrand would quote "do anything for campaign contributions." Now the White House denied the tweet had sexual overtones.
But many, including the editorial writers at "USA today" on Wednesday called it a new low for the President saying quote "a President who would all be call Senator Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential library or shine the shoes of George W. Bush," end quote.
Now also this week, the sexual allegation against the President came up in this hearing with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: At least 16 women have come forward to say that the President of the United States felt them up, kissed them without permission, put his hands under their clothing without permission, grope them, touched their genitalia, walked into dressing rooms unannounced to see them naked and made other unwanted sexual advances that everyone are clear violations of the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: On Friday, Senator Kamala Harris joined other Democratic senators including Bernie Sanders, calling for the President to resign.
So could this add up to a "me too" problem for the President as he tries to get Republicans elected to Congress next year, his own reelection effort in 2020?
Joining us now to discuss this, two women, members of the President's own party, Amy Kremer, the co-chair of women vote Trump and CNN political commentator and stand-up Republican board director, Tara Setmayer.
So, Tara, when we look at this, I want to go back to the Alabama election and Roy Moore. Do you think that election result was in a way justice for his accusers?
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think so. I mean, it would be remiss of me to say that those allegations against Roy Moore did not have an effect on that election. Of course they did. A huge one. Now not to say he didn't have issues before with some of his positions on things that made him a very difficult candidate to say the less for people to vote for in Alabama, but the sexual allegation charges against him for sure are what put him over.
My concern here is that the Democrats are going to overstep because, you know, Hillary Clinton made this mistake. The American people, they knew most of these allegations against President Trump, they were known before he got elected. So nothing new has come up since then. And a lot of the American people to my chagrin didn't care about those allegations and many other things that were troubling about Donald Trump. They didn't care. They saw him as an outsider, as a disrupter and that's what they wanted. They were willing to give up the principle and moral side of things in order to get something new and think he was going to help them and help the economy.
I can tell you that even former governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell came out and said something similar. He said look, people in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, they are not going to care about this so much if the Democrats don't come with a message of stuff like how is this going to help me.
CABRERA: Got you,
SETMAYER: So that's where I think the Democrats may overstep on this. And valid as the concerns are.
CABRERA: Sure. And I mean, that could certainly happen, but the election last year was at a different time. That was before Harvey Weinstein, before senator Franken, before Trent Franks. Before all these members of Congress, too, have come under fire. So Amy, the fact that Moore lost in Alabama. This is a state,
remember, that hasn't voted for a Democrat to the Senate in 25 years, who voted for the President by double digits and yet, his chosen candidate here lost. What does that say about women voters, especially we know that 98 percent of black women in Alabama voted for Democrat Doug Jones. So looking ahead to 2018 and beyond, where does that leave the Republican Party?
[19:45:04] AMY KREMER, CO-CHAIR, WOMEN VOTE TRUMP: Well, I agree with pretty much everything that Tara said there. I believe that look, I mean, Roy Moore denied these allegations. But he was not out there fighting them every day, and he should have been. There were other --
KREMER: I mean, he ran from the media. I mean, there were what I was going to say is there were other reasons he also lost that. I mean, he had no ground -- ground gate and quite frankly, the Democrats ran a great campaign. They outworked him on the ground, but the thing about it is that doesn't have anything to do.
Yes, President Trump endorsed him, but President Trump, as well as myself, I endorsed Mo Brooks. Our organization endorsed Mo Brooks early on. We e supported Roy Moore because he was the one that was going to push the President's agenda of building the wall, of tax reform, repeal and replace Obamacare.
So - but the people of Alabama spoke up and they chose a different candidate. And I respect that. And I think Roy Moore should concede. I mean, we have called on him to concede all week. And it's time to put that behind us and move on.
But at the end of the day, the President was voted into office in all of these allegations were out there. And now, just in the past two days, John Solomon from the hill, we have heard that some of these accuser were offered money. Their mortgages were paid off. And then you have got Kirsten Gillibrand coming out calling on the President to resign. That's absurd. I mean, why isn't she calling on Gregory Meeks to resign or --
CABRERA: Wait a minute. I mean, she has also come out there and said that if it had been a different time, she thought Bill Clinton should have resigned over those allegations.
KREMER: I completely disagree. (INAUDIBLE) Hastings, $220,000 of taxpayer money was paid to a victim of sexual assault in his, on his staff. Gregory Meeks, our taxpayer dollars were used to pay. And she hasn't called for them to resign. It's double standard.
CABRERA: Not asking you about the Republican Party. So let me talk - let me just pivot for a minute because you are right, the Moore election is done. Tara, Trump accusers coming out this week and you have both, right? A
lot of these accusations are not new. They were out there before the election and the voters spoke. But the fact that it has come back up, it isn't going away and yet, that happened earlier this week. We moved on by the end of the week and while we see Senator Franken resigning, we see Conyers, Trent Franks, I mean, couple more members of Congress this week who are saying they aren't going to run for reelection because of sexual harassment allegations. How does the President manage to stay out of the fire on this?
SETMAYER: I think it's, he's not, really, going to be able to. As long as people continue to bring these things up. He is going to, it is going to plague him. And I think it irritates him. And you are going to have Trump apologists make excuses for it.
But the only thing he can point back to, which is fair on his part, is that he won the election. This was litigated already in the electors -- electorate's mind because he won the presidency. And like I said, I think that if Democrats think this is the only thing that they are going the use going into 2018 or 2020, they are sadly mistaken. This is - that was part of why Hillary Clinton wasn't breaking through. She focused too much on the social aspects of Donald Trump's character floss. And people were like, well, we don't really care. He says he is going to do this for us.
People are flawed, they make mistakes. He is the new guy. And, you know, I think that's unfortunate. We need to be very careful about what are we willing to accept.
Roy Moore was, I was rooting for Roy Moore to lose, you know. I have never been more happy to see someone lose an election because what that would have done to the Republican party long-term would have been devastating, the beginning of the end because Republicans would have been saddled with supporting someone who was credibly accused of sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl.
CABRERA: Got to leave it there.
SETMAYER: That is just unbelievable. And the Republicans would have destroyed themselves if that guy had gotten elected. That would have been b part of the brand forever and women voters were already running into a problem there. We are seeing changes. And that would have been a problem.
CABRERA: Tara, thank you. Amy, I owe you a question next time. Thank you both for coming on.
KREMER: Thank you.
CABRERA: I really appreciate the discussion.
Now tomorrow here on "STATE OF UNION," CNN's Jake Tapper is going to interview senator-elect Doug Jones and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin. That's at 9:00 am eastern and pacific here on CNN.
Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[19:54:06] CABRERA: Of all the possible gifts to receive this holiday season, there is one that won't fit into a box, no matter how big it is.
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CABRERA: Don't you love that? That was the moment a Louisiana high schooler was accepted to college and not just any college, Harvard. Aaron Little, who is only 16, by the way, was surrounded by friends and family on Tuesday when he found out Harvard accepted his application under the early action program for the class of 2022. Now Harvard had always been Little's dream school. And he not only got accepted to Harvard, but his brothers also jumping for joy over college admission because last week his brother was accepted to Stanford. Smart family.
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[19:55:01] CABRERA: Can't get enough of that.
For many this time of year is about giving back but the 11th annual CNN Heroes all-star tribute salutes ten people who put others first all year long. Stars at the gala airs live tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN. And be prepared to be inspired.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are every day heroes. They inspire and change lives every day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to make sure they make better choices when it comes to violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you lose your child, the love doesn't go away, it has to find a place. I'm lucky I found a place to put at that love.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are truly what it means to be a hero.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is people helping people the best way we know how.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they see me, they always feel happy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just give them a chance. They can do anything you ask them to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This Sunday night, CNN presents a very special event.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper.
KELLY RIPA, TV HOST: And I'm Kelly Ripa.
COOPER: Join us live for CNN Heroes, an all-star tribute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN Heroes, an all-star tribute live Sunday at 8:00 p.m. on CNN