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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
CNN Sources: Pres Trump's Lawyer Anticipate Mueller Interview Request And Want To Limit Its Scope; 11 Days Until Federal Govt. Runs Out Of Money; CNN Sources: Oprah "Actively Thinking" About Presidential Run; Pres. Trump Insists He's 'Like Really Smart,' A 'Very Stable Genius'. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired January 8, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Top in the hour, something far more consequential to the president, again, what he says on Twitter about being very stable genius. New reporting tonight about what he assume might be called on to say this, Russia Special Counsel Robert Mueller who is turning out to be a very serious prosecutor, perhaps a very real threat. CNN Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown joins us now with the latest on that.
So what are you learning about a possible interview between the president and Mueller?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, bottom line here, Anderson, sources say in anticipation of an interview request which they view is inevitable for the president from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the president's lawyers are discussing internally how to define the parameters of any such interview.
The matter of a potential interview was broached in a previous meeting between both sides, but sources insist there have been no substantive discussions or active negotiations about the matter between president's lawyers and the special counsel. But the expectation is that those discussions will happen when both sides meet again.
The sources we've been speaking with, Anderson, said, you know, no one thinks Mueller will wrap up this investigation, particularly the obstruction of justice probe without an interview with the president. But what that interview might look like is still unclear. It certainly, though, would be a significant development and a sign that the investigation is coming to a close, Anderson.
COOPER: So what restrictions could the legal team or the president try to impose on the interview?
BROWN: So it's clear that Trump's attorney don't want their client to be interviewed by the special counsel team on a fishing expedition. And they're looking to help previous administrations of handled request like this in the past as a basis for limiting the president's exposure. Whether he actually needs to testify under oath, whether he can provide written answers to questions for Mueller's team and whether the testimony should be recorded. It is unusual for a sitting president to speak directly to special counsel or independent prosecutor who is leading an investigation.
Previous presidents have sat down for a deposition in civil suits but the president's lawyers do not want to end up in a situation like Bill Clinton where he was subpoenaed to testify when he was president in front of a Grand jury. Grand juries do not allow defense attorneys in the room during proceedings.
And we should also note, Anderson, interviews in criminal investigations they are voluntarily. Trump wouldn't be forced to speak directly to Mueller or the FBI but he could be compelled to testify before a Grand jury.
COOPER: How is the legal team when the president responding all this?
BROWN: So they did released a statement Ty Cobb of White House special counsel released a statement and he said, "For the record the White House does not comment on communications with the Office of Special Counsel out of respect for the OSC and its process. The White House is continuing its full cooperation with the OSC in order to facilitate the earliest possible resolution." So basically, he's saying there, look, we want this to wrap up soon. We don't want this to drag on any longer than it has to, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Pam Brown, appreciate the update.
COOPER: With the president's lawyers getting ready to face what it could be a defining moment for their client. The pressure on Robert Mueller from quite a few Republican lawmakers has not gone away nor, of course, from Mueller's defenders primarily have been on exclusively Democrats to let them get on with his job. Former Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders for one, I spoke with the Vermont Independent earlier tonight.
COOPER: Senator Sanders this news that the president's lawyers are anticipating a request for the president to talk to Muller, should the president, in your opinion, have to testify under oath?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I think the investigation that Mr. Mueller is doing is extremely important. And if he feels that it's imperative to do the investigation right to have the president testify, yes, I do think the president should.
COOPER: Lindsey Graham today said, "We should all want to protect somebody like Mr. Mueller and that there's no reason to fire Mueller and he should be allowed to do his job." A, do you think Senator Graham -- do you believe him on this? And do you think that view is held by other Republicans in the Senate? Because that certainly seems like among the president's there has been a kind of an anti-Mueller push. SANDERS: Well, you know, I just find it interesting that when the whole investigation began there was bipartisan widespread support for Mr. Mueller because people appreciate the excellent work that he did when he was head of the FBI, but suddenly for partisan reasons that changed. Just a bottom line here for me is let Mr. Mueller conduct this important investigation. I hope the president cooperates.
COOPER: I know you closely follow the president tweets, I'm sure. He tweeted this weekend that he called himself a very stable genius which came on the heels of the revelations in Wolff's book detailing concerns within the president's administration regarding his fitness for office. I'm wondering how you interpreted that tweet. I mean, do you think there is legitimate concern regarding the president's stability?
SANDERS: Anderson, all that I would say is most of the very smart people that I know, I know many, don't tweet out to the world that they are very stable geniuses.
Right now what my concern is, I have to tell you, si the -- what appears to me is the Republican effort to try to shut down this government. What we have seen in the last year is a Republican leadership trying to throw 30 million people off of health insurance and then moving to give huge tax breaks to the rich and large corporations.
[21:05:10] And now what they want to do for the first time is end the parity agreement that existed since 2011 and say, OK, we want to spend $100 billion more on the military, a $100 billion, but now we don't want to match domestic spending for the middle class in the same way.
So we have enormous problems facing this country. Chip the children's health insurance program, not being funded. Community health centers, not being funded. Veterans administration, not adequately funded. Million and a half people are going to lose a good part of their pensions. We have to deal with that. We have to deal with the issue of social security administration, not having the resources they need to provide service to the people according to "The Washington Post" 10,000 people with disability died last year because the social security administration was not able to process their claims.
There are enormous issues facing the working families in this country and it's about time that we start to dealing with them.
COOPER: You've argued that a shutdown would be on the Republicans. Could the shut down hurt both Democrats and Republicans alike just political? I mean, does the American people want to see a Congress that actually works --
SANDERS: They sure do. And I agree. Nobody who I think, you know, is concerned about the well-being of the American people wants to see a shutdown. And that's why I don't understand why the Republican leader Mitch McConnell says, yes, we have an agreement now in terms of parity for six years, four budget agreements, he wants to break that. That is a very provocative act. And then you have Trump saying, if I don't get my wall, nothing is going to happen. We're not going to do the Dreamers Act. You know what, 77 percent of the American people say we should support these young Dreamers and we should protect their legal status and most people want to give them a path toward citizenship. Most people don't want to spend $18 billion for a wall which, by the way, Trump told us was going to be paid for by Mexico.
Hey, Mr. President, get Mexico to pay for that wall, not the American taxpayers. But I'm worried that there's been a lot of activity on the part of Republican leaders that lead me to believe they want to shut down the government and that's bad.
COOPER: There is -- I mean, a lot of legislation coming that's going to require a bipartisan support to pass in the Senate beyond the government funding bill, is any bill -- I mean you talk about the wall, is any bill that funds the wall a nonstarter for you? Is there any scenario in which you think you could vote for bill that have that, a tax through it?
SANDERS: I think this wall is just -- look, everybody wants border security. That's not a debate. But, you know, back in the time when they built the Chinese Wall, it probably made sense. That was the technology they had back there. This is 2018. We have technology which is better, which is far less expensive to protect our border and that's the direction we should go. Protect our border, yes, we don't need an expensive wall that Trump told us would be paid for by the Mexican government but is not going to be paid for by them.
COOPER: Just last you saw, CNN's reporting today that on the heels of her speech last night, Oprah Winfrey is, "actively think of running for president." Do you think she could actually beat President Trump in 2020 if she did jump into a race?
SANDERS: You know what, Anderson. I have not a clue. I think everybody knows that Oprah is an tremendously intelligent, articulate person, but I think it's solely to be speculating an election that would take place in three years.
COOPER: I thought -- I didn't think you'd answer, but I though it was -- asking you that and asking if you're going to run in 2020, because I know you're not going to answer that anyway. Senator Sanders, good to talk to you. Thank you.
SANDERS: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up next, what might happen if and when the president sits down with Robert Mueller, a former independent counsel joins us with his take on who stands to gain and lose what could be quite a confrontation.
And later, Oprah Winfrey, as you just heard, asked Senator Sanders about her, was speech at the Golden Globes something more, as in perhaps the opening words of her presidential campaign? More on that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[21:12:03] COOPER: The notion of any sitting president talking to a special counsel or Grand jury or both is one thing. The idea of this president with his (INAUDIBLE) for speaking freely not always accurately is something else entirely. The question, how might it hurt him or could the encounter actually help him and could the White House just say no, he's just not going to talk, period. Questions for CNN Legal Analyst, Michael Zeldin, former Independent Counsel and Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Justice Department.
So, Michael, legally, the president seem doesn't have to agree to an interview with Mueller, correct?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Correct. They don't have to agree to a voluntary interview. But they cannot resist a Grand jury subpoena. United States Supreme Court decided that in United States versus Nixon. And so, if you will, they can negotiate away their rights to a Grand jury subpoena right up to that point.
COOPER: What limits -- I mean, if assuming they would want to negotiate rather than have the president be subpoenaed, what limits could the legal team impose on -- how the interview is conducted, the terms of it, the scope of it?
ZELDIN: They really have no sort of leverage over Mueller. They're at Mueller's beck and call. When we did our interview in my independent counsel investigation Herbert Walker Bush (ph), we were very deferential to the office of the president with respect to time and place so that we made sure we minimally interfered with his schedule. But that's all we were willing to do, and I think that's all that Mueller will be willing to do. And I think that Mueller will more likely follow Ken Starr's route which was -- they took a deposition of the president in the map room that was under oath and teleported, you know, to the Grand jury in live time.
COOPER: And lawyers -- with Clinton lawyers were not present, is that correct?
ZELDIN: They were present in the Paula Jones civil action but I do not believe they were present in the map room when Ken Starr's 5 1/2- hour grilling of President Clinton took place.
COOPER: So what is the timing of this of whatever the interview would be tell you about the length or status of the investigation? Because, I mean, I would assume that Mueller would want to talk to the president toward the end of an investigation after he was already interviewed and has all the information rather than earlier in the investigation or mid investigation and then, you know, have there be something else later on that he would like to talk to the president can't talk to him about?
ZELDIN: Well, that's right. However, they could also break it up into work streams. So they may come to a conclusion or the point where they're ready to interview the president with respect to the conspiracy to interfere with the election or the obstruction of justice. And they may say to the president we want to do a discreet interview with you on that topic and we reserve the right to come back and talk to you about other topics. Or they could do it in sort of one fell swoop at the end for all topics.
[21:15:05] So if he were interviewed tomorrow, it wouldn't necessarily tell us that the investigation is in its last leg because we don't know what the subject of that inquiry could be.
COOPER: But, I mean, wouldn't it be hard to get him to come back multiple times? Wouldn't it be easier to just try to do it all at once?
ZELDIN: Sure it would be, and it would be, again, you know, deferential to the office of the president to do it at one, you know, at point in time, but it's not required. Remember, Ken Starr interviewed President Clinton twice, and Fisk the predecessor of Starr interviewed Clinton once. So there were three interviews by the special counsel off Clinton. So there's not, you know, an absence of precedent for doing it that way as well.
COOPER: All right, Michael Zeldin, appreciate your time. Thanks very much.
ZELDIN: My Pleasure.
COOPER: I want to bring in the panel, David Gergen, Tara Setmayer, Christine Quinn, Scott Jennings, Maria Cardona, and Steven Moore.
David, I mean, how much room do you think the president's team really does have to negotiate? I mean, he could be subpoenaed but --
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they have some room to negotiate, but ultimately it maybe -- they're going to be forced far more than they want to. Looks to be so far that -- they're having a good cop/bad cop routine with the president. He's going to be the good cop saying, yes, some will cooperate and then his lawyers are going to come along and say, yes, but, and then they'll draw (INAUDIBLE).
I think the real issue was one of scope and that is Steve Bannon thought that the ultimate issue was going to be money laundering.
COOPER: Right, financial.
GERGEN: The president said I'm not going down that path.
COOPER: Right, he says at times that's a red line.
GERGEN: That's a red line. So will they try to force that and will that be a negotiating ploy of the Trump people? If Mueller thinks that indeed there is a serious question about money laundering, I would assume that he was a -- if you're not going to come voluntarily, here's a subpoena. And we're going to ask any question we want, that's our right.
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the last thing that Donald Trump's lawyers want is Donald Trump giving a deposition under subpoena where they can't necessarily be in control of what's happening.
We all know that Donald Trump is a vexatious litigant and has been through civil lawsuits, many of them, but one of the most notorious ones was in 2007 when he sued Tim O'Brien of "The New York Times" by the time he wrote a book that question Trump's wealth. And he went through a grueling deposition in December of 2007 where he was caught 30 times lying. And those lawyers, you know, they're at the top of their game, but they're nothing compared to what he would face with the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, and the attorneys that are on his team. I mean, they were bringing him documents making him read his own words, things in his own handwriting, forcing him to have to repeat things that were in contradiction to things he said publicly. So that was just for a case like that. Imagine in a situation like this, I think it's a huge trap for Donald Trump so obviously his lawyers are going to do everything they can to try to control this and limit the scope.
COOPER: We had -- an argue on the last hour between Jeff Toobin and Professor Dershowitz. Jeff Toobin saying Donald Trump might try to run out the clock if, you know, he only agrees to testify for an hour, he may just try to -- the flip side of that is, you know, in interviews when he does talk extemporaneously and he goes on, there's no telling where that conversation is going to go or what he's going to say.
CHRISTINE QUINN, PRESIDENT & CEO, WIN: I mean, -- remember there's going to be the lawyers' perspective and then President Trump's perspective. And I have no doubt that President Trump thinks he can blow this interview away, right, because he's nothing if not overly confident about his skills.
SETMAYER: -- genius.
QUINN: -- exactly like, smart. But his lawyers are going to do everything they can to put the tightest four corners around --
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: As they should.
QUINN: -- exactly, because running out of clock one time is your -- prior guess, doesn't mean they're not going to call him back. And him eating the clock, so to speak, God knows what he'll say and God knows how it will contradict or open a door Robert Mueller didn't even know about. So the lawyers have some big hurdles to get over.
MOORE: If they can constrain this investigation in the center view and set boundaries for it, then Donald Trump should do it.
COOPER: -- what's the bargaining. I don't -- quite understand what is the bargaining chip that they have to constraint -- that Trumps lawyers have to say he's not going to discuss financial --
MOORE: Because, I mean, look, I think most Americans think that it is not fair for a special prosecutor to ask questions about things that might have happened three or four or five years ago, what about your tax return, what about these allegations by this woman eight years ago that, kind of thing. I mean, it seems to me that -- the interview has to be about what happened during the campaign, what happened while he was in the White House, and should be restricted. I don't think Donald Trump did anything wrong.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: -- doesn't have to be.
MOORE: So my point is, yes, let's bring this thing to a conclusion.
COOPER: Maria, you're saying it doesn't have to be?
[21:20:01] CARDONA: It absolutely, it doesn't have to be constricted to that because one of the things that we have been talking about since the campaign and I mentioned this last time I was here, Anderson, is that there could absolutely be an issue with his monetary connections with Russia.
CARDONA: That has everything to do with how he might be beholden to the Russian government and to how this meddling actually happened. I think it's actually a core of this investigation and I think --
MOORE: We should be able to look into his tax returns.
CARDONA: Yes, absolutely. I absolutely think that.
And the other thing I would say is, yes, this is going to be a huge issue and a huge challenge for Trump's lawyers because of the fact that they don't want him talking probably more than 10 minutes. But at the same time, I think it's going to be a huge challenge for Mueller's team because they have got to go in there thinking this man is going to lie to us. And what do they have prepared -- how are they set up to either avoid that or to make sure that they getting the truth from him. And I think from this, this could go on longer because depending on what he says, you know they're going to have people set up to either verify what he's saying or to saying no, that is a lie.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the name of the game here, however, the parameters get set up is prep, prep, prep. You can't wing these things. You can't cram the night before. However they set this up, he's got to be well prepared by his lawyers. And as a secondary matter, he is got to keep focused on running the country and doing the things from a governance perspective and a political perspective that both the country and the Republican Party expects him to do. This could be an all consuming thing. It takes hours and hours and hours to get ready for one of these kinds of interviews, and it can consume your mind and so he's got a really compartmentalize it, prep plus keep doing what you're doing in running the country.
SETMAYER: He's got plenty of time, apparently, to prep, right, all that executive time -- CARDONA: Exactly.
COOPER: But to your point, Scott, I mean, Mueller has the advantage in knowing all the documents whereas -- I mean, I guess the presidency knows what e-mails the White House has turned over, so they know a fair amount of it.
JENNINGS: Yes, they know e-mails but they also know they've got to be honest with him. I've been very troubled with some of the reports that the lawyers have not been totally honest with the president about the timing of the investigation who said what -- what can you do? They have got to tell this guy the truth because failure to do that could be catastrophic for him in an --
QUINN: A lawyer telling their client what they want to hear is --
QUINN: It really is -- close to malpractice.
GERGEN: I want to raise a question, since a lot of this may center on his finances. Do you think his lawyers have access now to his financial records going back over the years and to his tax returns?
MOORE: Thousands of pages.
MOORE: -- when you say, well, they should be able to ask him about things that happened to eight or 10 years. I mean, this is a businessman who is billionaire. He's made, you know, hundreds of thousands of transactions. He has thousands of pages. I mean, the problem is it becomes a witch-hunt at that point. And I don't think --
CARDONA: This is core to the investigation.
MOORE: Well, if they're looking --
CARDONA: -- that the Russians gave him billions of dollars, eight or 10 years ago an he is still beholding to that.
COOPER: But also, I mean, his organization -- I mean, it was not an organization of hundreds of thousands. I mean, he's not ruining AT&T.
MOORE: It's a pretty good big operation. I mean, Trump's --
(CROSSTALK) GERGEN: It's complex. But it's not big.
SETMAYER: If you limit it to the foreign dealings, because that's what we're talking about, then it shouldn't be all that difficult.
COOPER: Although that's the argument is that a lot of the dealings may not have been in Russia itself, that they were domestic --
SETMAYER: -- Russia, but through Deutsche Bank and other deals --
SETMAYER: -- Toronto, in Bayrock Capital. All those things, those should absolutely beyond the table.
SETMAYER: Because to Maria's point and I always said this, that Trump has been -- his financial health has been intertwined with Russian money for decades. And they helped bail him out when he failed for the fourth time in the '90s because American banks wouldn't do business with him. So it would be crazy not to examine that because he has stuff and affinity for Russia.
CARDONA: And his son, and his son-in-law --
SETMAYER: Bragged about it.
GERGEN: This is going to be play out, I think, as we have a court of law in which it's going to take play, but there's really also the court of public opinion.
GERGEN: And both sides, yes, for the Mueller team and the president's team now, have a real interest in setting this up so that the public is on their side. I don't think we know yet that the public really doesn't care about all things that happened.
MOORE: Well, except that, you know, --
GERGEN: But I don't think there's evidence --
GERGEN: -- one way or the other.
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: Do you think Mueller's team cares about the political --
GERGEN: -- they have to be concern --
MOORE: The American people knew what they were getting with Donald Trump. I mean, look, they knew they were getting a businessman. They knew --
GERGEN: We didn't know if there was corruption.
JENNINGS: They have to care about --
JENNINGS: -- because --
JENNINGS: If they decide they cannot indict the president, then they'll be thinking about turning it over to Congress and they'll be thinking about a world of impeachment. That's why the president too and his team have to understand the PR of this. Whether he's indicted or not is one thing, that's legal a process, but to go down the road is a political process. That's why they got to own the PR space.
[21:24:57] QUINN: Robert Mueller is a true lawyer, true prosecutor. And I think he will follow an investigation where the law and where the facts take him. At the end of that investigation as he got to sit wit the group of PR people and say how do we package this? A 100 percent. But I don't -- given his career and how (INAUDIBLE) he is clearly in this case that he's going to go this way or that way based on public opinion. That would be violating his duty and be independent --
CARDONA: And let's remember that right now the pubic perception, the PR on this is actually in Mueller's favor. The American people, first of all, his record low approval ratings for Donald Trump, the majority of American people do believe that there was something untoward that was going on with Russia and that Trump is involved in it somehow. And they believe that Mueller should move forward on this. So right now the PR is in favor of Mueller and his team.
JENNINGS: The last thing we heard from the Justice Department about a major investigation of somebody of this stature was Hillary Clinton e- mail issue. The announcement by Comey over the summer and then coming back in at the end of the campaign, they got the perception and the PR that all wrong. That's why I think the Mueller people have to get this right, because the public right now, the last time they heard about something like this, what's going on here?
COOPER: We're going to get the panel's take coming up on this.
President Trump's assessment of "a very stable genius" and "like really smart," ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[21:30:02] COOPER: President Trump it seems is often reaching out for more to say. In this past weekend it was no exception. He went on a tweet storm reacting to the Michael Wolff book, "Fire & Fury", especially those bits about his intellect. In fact, he wrote so much it took three tweets back to back to finish.
Here are a couple, "Actually throughout my life," he wrote, "my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and as everyone knows went down in flames. I went from very successful businessman to top TV star. To president of the United States on my first try, I think that would qualify as not smart but genius and a very stable genius at that." Suffice it to say no president has ever done that. Back with the panel and Michael D'Antonio joins us as well. He' the author of the "Truth About Trump".
I feel like we had this conversation endlessly about on any given night about any number of tweets.
COOPER: Or got to have it again because, I mean, this is kind of fascinating. Does it make sense for -- I mean, again, to Bernie Sanders point, I have never met a smart person who had said keeps talking about how smart they are.
QUINN: Every truly brilliant person I've ever met or even ones with incredible academic degrees try never to raise them, right, try never to show people up by how much smarter they are. It's just a thing about people who are really brilliant, and a good thing. So if you're actually a genius, you don't say you're a genius. Your work, your intelligence, the way you conduct yourself just shows that.
COOPER: But I will say, in the last hour, Gary Tuchman was out there at president's speech in Nashville nobody cared that, you know, they thought, well, look, if that's --
QUINN: Well, I think you're polling supporters. I'm not sure that's --
COOPER: Obviously --
MOORE: -- you're talking about. In fact, there are -- you know, interlock challenge and I mean look -- I mean Donald Trump has been accused of being mentally unfit for office. So I mean, he comes back, is he a genius? You know, --
COOPER: But he's been saying the "I'm really smart" thing during the campaign.
(CROSSTALK) MOORE: -- but he's mentally fit. We spend a week on this ridiculous charge. I mean how could he not be mentally fit? I mean, he's a guy who won an incredible presidential campaign. He's built up an incredibly successful business. He's helped rebuild the economy. I mean, David, you worked for Ronald Reagan, you remember in the late '70s and early '80s people would make this charge against Reagan, he thinks that ketchup is a vegetable on things like that. I mean, I just think the (INAUDIBLE) charges and anybody who doesn't think Donald Trump is fit to be president after what he's achieved over the last two years in his whole life I think is smoking something.
QUINN: Seriously? Really?
MOORE: I know him. I know him.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": There's a categorical difference between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. So, I don't think going there makes any sense. Either Ronald Reagan was governor of the state of California. He ran successful presidential campaigns and he actually won the majority of the votes. Trump did not win the majority of the votes.
And nothing of what he claimed in those three claims of I'm such a great businessman who went bankrupt four times, I'm a big TV star who was rated 63rd when he finished up his run. I ran for president once and won. That's not true, he ran in 1999. He dabbled in 1987. He's been pretending to run for president for 20 years.
So the relationship between Trump and reality is what people cite when they criticize him and draw attention to his fitness. Now I think Steven is right that he's responding in part because he's been accused of something other people have not been accused of, so other people have no reason to be defensive.
D'ANTONIO: But he's put himself in this box. And I think people are alarmed and they're going to this fitness idea when really it's more is he leading us in a way that we can respect?
GERGEN: Ronald Reagan never ever called himself a genius. He was too smart for that. You know, so I did think in that highly contentious interview yesterday, Jake Tapper was -- Stephen Miller. Miller actually made a smart argument and that he said, he's a political genius.
GERGEN: I think more people are willing to say he has a sixth sense he tapped into something other people didn't. COOPER: Right, but his supporters --
GERGEN: -- in that area, I thought that was a smart place to take it.
COOPER: I just want to play some of that interview that Stephen Miller did with Jake. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN MILLER, DONALD TRUMP'S SENIOR ADVISOR: -- Jake, Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Stephen.
MILLER: Jake, the reason why I want to talk about the president's experiences, what I've seen with him traveling, to meet dozens of foreign leaders with his incredible work --
TAPPER: OK. You're not answering the question.
MILLER: You have 24 hours a day of --
TAPPER: Stephen, you're being --
MILLER: -- going to give three minutes, because the American people --
TAPPER: I get it.
MILLER: -- real experience of Donald Trump.
TAPPER: There's one viewer that you care about right now and you're being obsequious. You're being --
MILLER: No, you're being --
[21:35:03] MILLER: You know what I care about?
TAPPER: I've wasted enough of my viewers' time. Thank you, Stephen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, I don't, yes.
SETMAYER: Look, if you are -- I mean, that speaks for itself. And I said that, you know, Stephen Miller should never be in front of a television camera defending anyone. And it's scary that a guy like that is actually in the White House next at account (ph) to president.
But anybody knows this. If you're a secure individual, you don't have to continually prove to people something that should be evident. You are president of the United States. You are in the most powerful position in the world. Why do you need to tweet like you're in high school to prove that you're really pretty and popular? Like, if you are pretty and popular, you don't have to tell people that.
So the fact that Donald Trump continues to do this, and Michael can speak to it, he spent time with him, the man is unbelievably insecure about these things and that kind of pathology in his personality is what concerns people and why people think he's unfit to be president of the United States. Because -- I mean, it was only a week ago that he was bragging about how big his button was, his nuclear button was.
MOORE: Let me make a point about this.
SETMAYER: Come on.
MOORE: Because I think liberals are being a little bit hypocritical here. I mean, you know, I wrote a column on this those -- when I used to play junior tennis when I was a kid and this guy who used to always beat me when I was in the 5th and 6th grade. I say to my mother and -- and I said, slam down my racket and say that guy is no good. You know, I can't -- he's a terrible tennis player and my mom would say, how bad can he be if he beat you? I mean, Donald Trump --
SETMAYER: Beat the 6th grade was the operative phrase in that category. You just --
MOORE: -- beat him first and then you can say he's an idiot he is.
JENNINGS: I though a lot about this tweet over the weekend. And if you think about when it occurred it was about 72 hours after the new cycle started on this book and the president, as we know, consumes a huge amount of news coverage. For three straight days he sat and watched everybody in the world call him everything but a good milk cow. Questioned his fitness, questioned his intelligence, questioned whether he was even engaged in the job. And probably for the first time in the history of electronic communications, we have someone who can alter the conversation in an instant in his pocket. And I would submit that if any of us were put in that position, we might pull it out and try to alter the conversation if we have absorbed three straight days.
Now we can debate whether the content of the tweet helped, hurt, or didn't, but I'll tell you this. He injected a defense using a communications tool that not other presidents had had.
SETMAYER: You think that helped him? It didn't help him.
GERGEN: The issue is not the tweet. The issue is his fitness. And what we have -- the book has been out now for nearly a week. How many people have come out of this White House and said he was (INAUDIBLE) wrong, nobody around here believes that about the fitness issue. Steve Bannon who was the chief accuser has never taken back a word of what he said, and the number of people like Stephen Miller is very small. And that silence from the White House staff is deafening.
QUINN: And, you know, just the content of the tweet isn't the issue. I mean, I understand I would be mad too, but it's the impulse control that speaks to fitness, right? And I think that people not coming out as you said, David, the White House speaks to the reality of people seeing constantly that lack of impulse control.
MOORE: David, you've been around many presidents in your lifetime. Look, do you really believe this man is mentally unfit to be president? I mean really?
GERGEN: I'm not a psychiatrist. I hate to make a clinical assessment, but I think his behavior often raises --
MOORE: I don't agree with his behavior either. But --
GERGEN: But the lack of impulse control, and I think juxtaposing foreign policy and the button on the desk and my button is bigger than his button and you know the guy from the book has moments of irrational anger and that nobody wants to go anywhere close to him, I do think raises a legitimate question about his --
MOORE: It's a fair point. My only rebuttal with that is, with Donald Trump, I think the lesson learned is watch what he does not what he says.
GERGEN: What he does has been more moderate, especially in foreign policy --
COOPER: Michael, I mean -- when you were interviewing him and writing a book about him, was there a neediness to him? Because, I mean, there is, you know, I forget to say it but, you know, there is this sort of neediness. And even when you're interviewing, you know, if you say something nice, you can see it wash over him.
D'ANTONIO: Of course.
COOPER: And sort of calm him and then you can ask him some tough question as long as you start come back to -- a compliment here and there about his poll numbers or size of crowd.
D'ANTONIO: Of course, he does have this proud neediness. I don't think that makes him unique among presidents or politicians. Many of them are --
COOPER: Did he always -- I mean, in your experience?
D'ANTONIO: Yes, I think for his entire life he's had this basic insecurity that he hasn't overcome, but I also think that the people in the White House are dealing with it. And the only way that anyone has successfully dealt with it. You appease him. You try and ruffle his feathers as little as possible. And you hope to accommodate whatever he does.
[21:40:04] COOPER: We got to take a quick break.
Coming up next, after Oprah Winfrey's speech at the Golden Globes Awards last night, three close friends say she is actively thinking of running for president in 2020. We're not sure exactly what that means. But we'll take a look what the Trump White House is saying and a possibility of Oprah running when we come back.
COOPER: Once again there's a lot of 2020 presidential buzz after Oprah Winfrey's rousing speech last night at the Golden Globes Awards. Here's part of it.
OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA MOGUL: And I'm especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell and this year we became the story. But it's not just a story affecting the entertainment industry, it's one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault, because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue.
They're the women whose names we'll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories, and they work in restaurants, and they're in academia and engineering and medicine and science. They're a part of the world of tech and politics and business. There are athletes in the Olympics, and there are soldiers in the military, and there is someone else
[21:15:15] COOPER: Well, three of Oprah Winfrey's close friends tell CNN that she's actively thinking, their words, about running for president of the United States. This afternoon the White House spokesman said, "We welcome the challenge whether it be Oprah Winfrey or anybody else." Back now with the panel. Also joining us is Frank Bruni, a CNN Contributor, a "New York Times" op-ed columnist.
Frank you were writing about last night. What do you make of this notion Oprah Winfrey running for president?
FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, when I listened to the speech last night, I knew we would wake up to news like this. And I think the big part of it and we talked about all the reasons why people are intrigued by this, I think the big part of it is after a year of the Trump presidency, I think people are starved for eloquence, I think they're starved for uplift, they're starved for someone making a sort of unifying statement like the one that Oprah made.
And as I was listening to that again, as you played it just now, I was really struck by -- although she was talking mainly about the experience for women this year, you know, and the big reckoning when it comes to way we treat women. She talked about a lot of other groups and a lot of other types of people. And she made that group of women as large as possible.
We don't get that sort of big tent unifying talk from the White House, and I think a lot of people listened to that, watched that, and thought, boy, that's what I'm missing, that kind of moral leadership that I would say Donald Trump has all but abdicated.
COOPER: It was interesting, because in the last hour we talked to Van Jones about this and I said, you know, a lot of people don't -- I mean, what is Oprah's economic, you know, what her economic positions. There's a lot to fill in and Van's point was, you know, all that can come, but that her message could be kind of a decency and --
COOPER: --you know, kindness as opposed to, you know, what critics of Trump would interpret as his message.
GERGEN: Yes, Anderson, typically in a presidential election voters look for the weaknesses in the incumbent and then vote for somebody who has a compensating strengths. And I think to go to Frank's point, you know, Oprah comes along as the non-Trump. And she's very different kind of person and I do think that she could rally. We'll have to wait and see. There are a lot of people, you know, not quite sure she should be president, they actually like her very much as -- in the position she's been in,
But I do think what is absolutely clear is that women could well be the driving force of the next presidential election. You know, Emily's list in the last presidential cycle had a thousand women who came and called and said I'd like to get involved in politics. Help me think about running. This cycle, so far they've had 21,000 women who come forward and said I want to get of the sidelines and get into politics. I think we're seeing something we had not seen before and it could dramatically change your politics in the next few years.
QUINN: And if you add on to that -- the women's march and how that has kept going as an organization and a lot more younger women getting involved in both electoral politics and political grassroots organizing, I think you're absolutely right, David. Both the midterm and then going into 2020 really won't -- may or may not be the year of the women in the sense of '92 when woman got elected, but it will be the year of the woman in the sense of women driving the agenda and driving the turnout.
COOPER: It is easier when you're outside politics to be viewed as this unifying figure. It's -- and when you actually get in the trenches and you're coming up with your full military policy and your foreign policy that people start to be like, oh, wait a minute, this is -- you're down in the dirt with everybody.
SETMAYER: That's the reason why I said I tweeted it out today that, you know, I thought Oprah's speech was fantastic and she's one of the most 2inspiring, amazing women in this country. But we don't need another non-government experienced TV personality to be president. And, you know, not to say that she wouldn't approach it with more dignity and probably more seriousness than Donald Trump did and would surround herself with people to compensate for what she didn't know. I think she doesn't have the same kind of ego that Trump has.
But I just don't know that in the long run it would be good for Oprah because she would be exposed to all of the examination that goes into being a candidate and she's kind of seen almost as an angelic figure in a way and that would go right out the window in a presidential election. Why risk her brand with that?
QUINN: Yes, I'm actually going to agree with you. I love Oprah. And I don't want anybody sending me hate mail that I'm an Oprah hater. I'm not. I lover her.
COOPER: I thought you said you don't like Oprah.
QUINN: Hey, -- and I agree that she's a completely unifying and inspiring figure, and people are just wanting that so badly, and it will be the year of the woman and women will be a driving force.
But if Trump has proven anything, it is that experience in governing matters. It is that developing a world view or a political view based on experiences on how policies will actually affect people matters. And I think that we would be short changing the country if Democrats and frankly, you know, the majority of Americans, everybody who was excited last night just automatically say OK, Oprah's going to be our next president. I think we need to go back to the tradition that we need actually somebody with electoral experience. Ronald Reagan, who is the last person who was an actor actually had electoral experience. Exactly.
[21:50:25] MOORE: But here's the point, I mean, when you say somebody who doesn't know. I mean he's created jobs, he's created growth. What people wanted was an economist, but improving -- boy, he has it.
But here's the point. You know, I guess the Republican on this stage, she scares me. You know, as a Republican. I think she would be a very formidable opponent. I look at Elizabeth Warren and I look at Senator Bernie Sanders and some of these other candidates, and I think Donald Trump would have very little problem with them, but I think, you know, what Donald Trump proved is a couple things. One is people want someone of accomplishment. And she is a woman of incredible accomplishment, celebrity counts far lot in America today. That gives her a huge advantage. And I actually think, I disagree with both of you, I think the fact she's a non-politician is a big, big plus in 21st century American. People are sick of professional politicians.
QUINN: We'll see if that holds in the next three years. If what we're experiencing is somebody like Trump who's going to -- right now --
MOORE: -- sort of the Democratic version of Donald Trump. I mean, in the sense of someone who's not been in politics.
QUINN: Right, right, right. Celebrity, exactly.
BRUNI: Being a non-politician would help, but if she enters the race and Democrats get behind her. It becomes difficult -- it was more difficult to campaign against Donald Trump because we've been hearing experience matters.
BRUNI: We've been talking about the way the Republican Party devalued expertise, right? So much of what we've said has been proven by Trump's failures in the presidency and I think he's a failed president. I know --
MOORE: Even in economy?
BRUNI: -- you and I just --
MOORE: I don't think he gets credit for that. But my point is, how do you make the best case against Trump if you're putting forward Oprah? You've taken a lot of arguments off the table. I think that's dangerous.
QUINN: As a former elected official, I believe strongly in that being an elected official is a profession. You commit to it and it really has its own unique set of skills and requirements that should be mastered. That said, I want to win. We have to win. And if what makes sense at that point is another celebrity one who is all the things you described her as the counterpoint to Trump as David said, then we need to go with it. We need to go with it. If that's going to be the winning formula.
GERGEN: There's something else, I need to be pointing about. You made a good point when you actually get in the arena and have to make decisions about defense. You're becoming more-less unpopular. But if you come in what could be revolutionary agenda about a place of women and society and politics, that can make a big difference.
In Canada, Trudeau has a cabinet which is half women, he's for gender balance across government, and the things he is doing, make him more popular than anything else he's doing. How he's setting up for women. He's transformed politics in Canada and you're going see that I think increasingly in this country.
QUINN: -- has nothing to do with it.
SETMAYER: I think the fact that she holds all the cards and will have more impact if she didn't actually go through with it. She could -- look at impact on Barack Obama. I mean, it was a huge moment in 2007 --
COOPER: Do you think she has more impact than if she was president --
SETMAYER: -- well, no, because I think -- no, I don't think she -- I that she --
QUINN: She entered --
SETMAYER: -- damage and entered into the campaign that it would damage her and if she flirted on the periphery, she could still hold all the cards about that damage.
COOPER: All right.
SETMAYER: She influenced Obama in 2007 that race by not endorsing Hillary Clinton is a huge impact.
COOPER: I'm sure this is the last time we're going to talk about this. We're going to revisit the president's insistence that he's very stable genius. "The Ridiculist" is next.
[21:57:21] COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist". And we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about the president's weekend declaration of his superior intellect. In a series of tweets, the president insisted that he is "like really smart and a very stable genius." Thereby becoming the latest in a long line of really smart people who publicly announced that they are geniuses, and by long line I mean there are two other examples.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILE E. COYOTE: Permit me to introduce myself, my name is coyote, Wile E. Coyote, genius.
MINDY KAILING, THE OFFICE: I'm like really smart now. You don't even know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's right, Wile E, Cayote and Kelly from the office and now the president of the United States. This came up briefly when Senator Lindsey Graham was on the view this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So do you think he's like really smart and a stable genius?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think this, if he doesn't call himself a genius, nobody else will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, we got to laugh, but it's not actually true that nobody else will call him a genius. A few came close yesterday and one did in fact use the g word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, UNITED NATIONS AMBASSADOR: No one questions the stability of the president --
MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: President Trump is completely capable.
MILLER: The reality is the president is a political genius.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A political genius. OK. Some people believe that and that's fine, but that's not really what we're getting at here. On Twitter, many pointed to the Einstein quote, "I am not a genius, I am just curious." Many more thought the only stable genius out there is America's favorite talking horse who dated to the famous Mr. Ed and speaking of horses, of course, of course, someone else tweeted, stable genius sounds like a Nat Geo show about a guy who helps horses with psychological behavioral issues.
There were also a few variations of this perspective, "I have not lost my mind!, he shouted into a handheld device at 7 a.m. on a Saturday." And really summing it up, "I'm a very stable genius is something you hear a lot from very stable geniuses."
Now it's true that the president's Twitter declaration was about as subtle as a face tattoo that says I'm understated. But if you think about it, he did show remarkable restraint, for instance, he didn't even mention that he also happens to be the worlds highly skilled athlete.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I have seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. I've seen him in Madison Square Garden with the top coat on, he's standing in the key, hitting foul shots and swishing them, OK. He sinks three foot putts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: See, he could have mentioned all of that, the putts, the swishes, the dead spirals, he could have repeated that. He has all the best words and hires the best people, went to the best college or colleges and has the biggest hands, but he didn't. He just said one little thing about being like a really smart stable genius, and that's what we like to call restraint and humility on "The Ridiculist". Thanks for watching 360.
Time to turn it over to Don Lemon, "CNN Tonight" starts right now.