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President Trump Silent on Roseanne Barr's Racism, Instead Attacks ABC for Apologizing; Roseanne Barr's Ex-Husband Speaks Out; NYT: Former Acting FBI Dir. Feared Rosenstein Gave Trump Cover Story For Comey Firing; Saying "Spy" Doesn't Make It So, Pt. 3; Pres. Trump Makes It All About Him, Again. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

In a moment, Roseanne Barr's ex-husband, Tom Arnold, joins me, speaking out for the first time on television about the controversy swirling around his former wife. But, first, we want to focus on today's reaction from the White House, and in particular, the president of the United States, whose office obviously gives him enormous power to shape the national debate.

Today, he did finally mention the firing of Roseanne Barr. But if you thought he might use this moment to say something about racism or bigotry, he did not. He could have taken what was already a national conversation about race, social media, and who we are as Americans, and any number of directions today.

He instead kept it simple. He made it about himself and not for the first time, either.

A day after ABC canceled the revival of "Roseanne" for Barr's racist tweet, comparing former senior adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape, the president responded this way, quote: Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ABC does not tolerate comments like those made by Roseanne Barr. Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the horrible statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn't get the call.

Keeping them honest, nowhere in the tweet did he condemn what Roseanne Barr said, he didn't call it for what it is, racist. And he didn't acknowledge why it might offend so many people. He said nothing about the bold step that ABC took in killing one of its biggest hits. He didn't lament the passing of the show highlighting people who don't get represented very much on television. Millions of Americans, many of whom voted for Mr. Trump.

You might say the president has more important things to focus on than the cancelation of a television show or the racist comment of an actress. But this is the same president who just a couple months ago in a speech practically made Roseanne's show his own.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look at Roseanne, I called her yesterday. Look at her ratings. Look at her ratings.

I got a call from Mark Burnett. He did "The Apprentice." He's a great guy.

He said, Donald, I called just to say hello and tell you, did you see Roseanne's ratings? I said, Mark, how big were they? They were unbelievable. Over 18 million people. And it was about us.


COOPER: It was about us he said back then. Yet today, it was not. Today on Twitter, and later at the White House briefing, it was mainly about him.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's pointing to the hypocrisy in the media saying the most horrible things about this president and nobody addresses it. Where was Bob Iger's apology to the White House staff for Jemele Hill calling the president and anyone associated with him a white supremacist? To Christians around the world for Joy Behar calling Christianity a mental illness? Where was the apology for Kathy Griffin going on a profane rant against the president on "The View" after a photo showed her holding President Trump's decapitated head?

This is a double standard that the president is speaking about. Nobody is defending her comments. They're inappropriate. But that's what the point that he was making.


COOPER: Now, whatever you think of the point the president was making, whether you think he's being treated unfairly, the president does, and he says so a lot. Even at occasions when most presidents have not, every other president up to now would limit their remarks to their audience, coast guard academy graduates, for example.


TRUMP: Look at the way I've been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.

You can't let them get you down. You can't let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams. I guess that's why we won.


COOPER: Ask not how the media treats you, ask how the media treats me. Oh, and ask why I won. That was the Coast Guard Academy commencement.

And here was the president tweeting in the wake of the hurricane that we now have reason to believe killed hundreds if not thousands of Americans. Quote: nobody could have done what I've done for Puerto Rico with so little appreciation. So much work and so little appreciation.

Even now, thousands of households in Puerto Rico lack power, but I guess you take your grievances where you can get them. For example, in front of a wall paying tribute to fallen intelligence officers of the CIA who sacrifices all the greater because their names may never be spoken out loud. Traditionally, when dignitaries visit that spot, they say something like this.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But it is especially humbling for me to be with you all today, men and women of character who sacrificed greatly, and to stand before this hallowed wall, this memorial wall, where we remember 117 who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.


COOPER: Well, that, of course, was Vice President Pence introducing the who president who did not mention the fallen except to say, and I'm quoting here, the wall behind me is very, very special. That was it.

Mostly, he complained about the coverage of his inauguration the day before.


[20:05:00] TRUMP: And the reason you're my first stop is that as you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth, right?


And I was explaining about the numbers. We did a thing yesterday. The speech -- did everybody like the speech? I've been given --


But we had a massive field of people. You saw that. Packed.

I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. I say, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out. The field was -- it looked like a million, million and a half people.

They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there. And they said, Donald Trump did not draw well.


COOPER: Those remarks and that's just a portion of them, surprised a lot of people. They also set a tone that president has stuck to -- taking occasions that have traditionally been about others, their needs, their losses, even their sacrifices, and making them about himself -- his own grievances or sometimes his own accomplishments. Happy Memorial Day, he tweeted on Monday. Those who died for our

great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for blacks and Hispanics ever and women in 18 years. Rebuilding our military and so much more. Nice.

Nice, indeed.

More now on the president's reaction to the Roseanne Barr controversy from CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.

So, Jim, the president's tweet, Sarah Sanders' comments today, I mean, it is all sort of out of the White House's playbook.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Anderson. This was hardly a teachable moment today unless this was teach the country how things should not happen over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I mean, this was a day when the White House press secretary came into the room and instead of saying, well, the president's tweets speak for themselves, which she often does say, she decided to go ahead and jump on the Trump please apologize train and insist that a lot of people owe the president an apology.

And of course, you know, I tried to ask as she left the room today, she wouldn't take a question from CNN, but I tried to ask as she left the room, where are the president's apologies for all the things he has said since the very beginning of his campaign?

Remember, he launched his campaign by saying that Mexican immigrants coming into the U.S. are rapists and criminals. And then throughout the course of the campaign, and the part of his presidency that we covered so far, he has time and again made outrageous, false, offensive comments about just about everybody under the sun, whether it's African-American athletes or sons of bitches in his eyes because they protest before a football game or, you know, when he goes off on immigrants coming into the country and saying that millions of people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton. This is part of a pattern where the president is nursing his grievances over here on a daily basis, feels that everybody else owes him an apology, but he's not willing to offer one himself.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it is interesting, though, the extent to which he sort of reached out and embraced Roseanne previously about her ratings and in that speech that he made kind of making it, again, about himself in some way.

ACOSTA: Oh, that's right. And we saw this at the rally last night in Nashville. We see this on almost a daily basis.

And, Anderson, you know, he seems to be caught in this extremely narcissistic moment in his presidency right now, perhaps it's because of the Mueller investigation, which he again insists is part of some grand conspiracy. He was alleging just yesterday that Robert Mueller is going to be meddling in the midterm elections. Rudy Giuliani tried to clean some of that up today and say, well, if the investigation is still happening by the fall, that's what meddling is in the eyes of this president.

But by and large, Anderson, we should never really expect this president to jump out of this pattern. He is never going to apologize really for any of the things he said over here and the White House instead of, you know, simply coming out today and saying, listen, the president's tweets speak for themselves, you know, we'll refer you to the president for these comments, you know, they're essentially going out there and, you know, passing around a hat asking for apologies. It's just not what you expect to see at a White House daily briefing and it's, again, one of the reasons why it just feels so darn surreal covering this White House on daily basis. It's Alice in Wonderland stuff, sometimes 1984 stuff, Anderson, when you hear the White House asking for apologies when the president owes more than just about anybody in this country.

COOPER: Jim Acosta from the White House -- Jim, thanks very much.

Two views not, differing views. Joining us, Democratic strategist Symone Sanders who served as press secretary on the Bernie Sanders campaign and former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo.

So, Symone, I mean, the president didn't denounce Roseanne Barr's racism, did go after the head of ABC's parent company for apologizing to Valerie Jarrett and not to the president. Does that make sense to you?


[20:10:00] Absolutely, it doesn't make sense, but not much that this White House does, does make sense.

What I will say is this -- I find it very striking that the president chose to, in fact, speak out about Roseanne, tweet about Roseanne, not tweet about the Americans, the 4,600 Americans -- plus Americans whose lives were, in fact, lost due to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. And so, what I see here is that the president's clearly more concerned about himself than he is anything and anyone else.

And where this could have been a moment where the White House could have got really got a win on this, they botched it. And so, all these unforced errors, we're now talking about the president's inability to make -- to have compassion and empathy and condemn something that is clearly wrong, and it's also telling that Sarah Huckabee Sanders today chose to elaborate and defend the president's comments when they have been very much so silent on so much more.

COOPER: Michael, I know on Twitter you offered -- you went as far to offer Roseanne a spot on a new streaming platform that you've launched. A, can explain why you think it would be wise to be in business with her at this point and do you think the president missed an opportunity here?

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: First of all, on the president, I think the president was trying to put his two cents in about why a lot of supporters believe that Roseanne Barr was not given the same treatment that people on the other side of the aisle have been -- like we went through them before with -- with Ms. Sanders.

But I don't think that he really is in a spot right now to talk about this. I got -- I got to believe that none of us like or appreciated what Roseanne Barr did. It's a horrible mistake and I think, you know, people view it as -- this whole thing about gorillas, it's a troupe. It's been around for a long time. It's a racist trope.

I've seen people taken down by this in the past. I've worked with executives in my communications consultant capacity, especially -- actually with a local comedian and television personality who did something here in Buffalo very similar. And three years later, his career has not recovered.

My question is, you know, if Roseanne is sorry, and she's making -- sounds like she is sorry, she's talk to, I believe to her staff, that she really let down, 100-plus people now out of a job, she makes amends for this with her community, with her family, with her friends, staff --

SANDERS: I got to jump in here.

CAPUTO: I think she needs to get back to work.

COOPER: OK, you're saying she should be given another chance.

Symone, should she?

CAPUTO: Right, as long as she makes amends for this.

COOPER: Right.

SANDERS: Roseanne hasn't tried to make amends. Guess what? Today, she blamed her racism on the Ambien, said the Ambien made me do.

She apologized yesterday, quote/unquote, apology, said I'm sorry for my joke. So, I do not think that Roseanne is, in fact, sorry.

But furthermore, this is who Roseanne actually is. This wasn't the first time she tweeted something that was racist. It's not the first time she had problematic remarks.

ABC noted themselves this was the third or fourth time, this was the straw that broke the camel's back to them, of Roseanne being offensive.

So, there are -- look, there's freedom of speech in this country but you don't have freedom from consequences of your speech. What Roseanne is being met with and many other people will be met with, actually, if they have public platforms and decide to speak and speak out in this manner, are, in fact, consequences.

Last thing, I'll say about President Trump putting in his two cents. The day President Trump called Roseanne after her show aired was also during the -- in the aftermath of Stephon Clark's shooting, if you will. The White House said this is a local matter and they couldn't comment on it. Again, the president had time to comment on Roseanne then and he had

time to comment on Roseanne now. It demonstrates what the president thinks he's important and who he is talking to. He's the president of all people and damn it, I wish he'd start acting like it.

CAPUTO: Right, I understand that. You know, we all know that Roseanne and the president have been friends for a lot of years. That phone call came after her show started, came from a lot of history between the two of them.

And my question, I guess, is when someone makes a mistake like this, I obviously, and I think everybody agrees what she said was reprehensible, but, you know, I don't think this is what comes from Roseanne's heart. I don't know her. But the people I worked with in the past --

SANDERS: I'm sorry.


CAPUTO: Do you mind if I continue, Symone?

SANDERS: I'm sorry.

COOPER: Michael, just --

SANDERS: I'm sorry.

COOPER: Michael, I do want you to continue. But you know, the number --

CAPUTO: At what point can I continue?

COOPER: The number of tweets she has sent about 9/11 conspiracy theories, she did make --


CAPUTO: Understood. Somehow or bother ABC.

COOPER: Go ahead.

CAPUTO: All right. I understand, but if I can get through this before I'm interrupted again, this is not --

SANDERS: Oh, all right.

CAPUTO: ABC has not had a problem with this in the past.

Geez, can I continue with this?

COOPER: You're right, go ahead.

CAPUTO: OK. ABC has not had a problem with this in the past.

[20:15:00] And I understand these kinds of comments set people off. I wonder, is -- my friend who's the comedian and television personality here in Buffalo, is three years long enough for him to be in Siberia? At what point in time do you think Roseanne Barr can go back to work?

I don't think it's up to Hollywood executives. I don't think it's up to you, Symone. I think it's up to her fans. And that's why we invite her to join the platform because it cuts out the Hollywood moguls who make these decisions.

She needs to make this right. She made a big mistake, but it's not up to anyone but her fans as to how long she has to stay in Siberia.

COOPER: Symone, I mean, can she come back, should she be able to?

SANDERS: Look, I think any network that allows Roseanne back onto the air is saying they are absolutely OK with whom she has shown herself to be over a number of years. That's right. This wasn't just one tweet. This is who Roseanne is.

And the one part I agree with is that ABC knew about all this and let her have a show, anyway, because they thought the show would then temper her outbursts, if you will, on Twitter. So, again, if a network wants to put Roseanne back on their network, that will be on them. That will be on those advertisers that decide to side with bigotry, Islamophobia, racism and sexism.

I just want to defend why I laugh because I think it's laughable to assert that this isn't who Roseanne is. This is who Roseanne has always been. She's told us who she was.

CAPUTO: I didn't know you knew her so well, Symone. I didn't know that.

SANDERS: I just want to know, Roseanne --

CAPUTO: I don't know her. I can't defend her or insult her.

COOPER: All right.

SANDERS: You have defended her.

CAPUTO: I tell you this --

COOPER: Go ahead, Michael.

SANDERS: Oh, wait, are you now interrupting people? Because you just said, oh, please don't interrupt me. You sounded so offended.

COOPER: Let's wrap it up. I appreciate both of your perspectives.


COOPER: Symone Sanders, Michael Caputo, thanks very much.

Coming up, Roseanne Barr's ex-husband Tom Arnold joins us for his first TV interview. He, of course, has insight into her behavior. And there's also connection to the president we'll talk about. Also ahead, breaking news from "The New York Times" about a memo former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe wrote about the firing of James Comey and what the president said at the time.


[20:20:52] COOPER: In a flurry of tweets and retweets after her show was canceled, Roseanne Barr, more than a hundred times, offering excuses for her racist tweets, sometimes saying she was sorry. Other times, retweeting fans who portrayed her as the victim. It was all over the place.

But one excuse she posted and deleted was that it was 2:00 in the morning and she was, quote, Ambien tweeting.

The makers of Ambien posted this, quote: People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.

Joining me now is actor, comedian, writer on the original "Roseanne" and Roseanne Barr's ex-husband, Tom Arnold.

Tom, thanks for being with us. Sorry, it's under these circumstances.


COOPER: I'm wondering first, when you saw Roseanne's tweets yesterday, I'm just wondering what went through your mind? Were you surprised?

ARNOLD: Well, I was not surprised that what went down and that the show was canceled. I had a feeling this was going to happen when I first heard it was coming back, that there was a reboot.

COOPER: You thought this might happen, why?

ARNOLD: Yes. I just know, I -- what I heard about her politics, I knew she was -- when I read her social media in the very beginning, and I saw how she was so into the conspiracy stuff with Donald Trump and so how far gone she was, and the pizzagate and Hillary is a pedophile and Obama wasn't born here, she was, you know, a birther, and how crazy that was -- I just knew that this would not end well.

COOPER: Did -- so, were you surprised then that ABC chose to bring it back, because obviously they saw those tweets as well?

ARNOLD: Right. I was surprised that they didn't do anything about it. In fact, I tweeted a lot, because, you know, I figured someone would take her phone away or monitor that because it's dangerous, you know, when you have that much money on the show.

It's -- you know, we have the First Amendment, we also have the Second Amendment. But you don't just give someone a hand gun to walk around the stage there, you got to -- well, hopefully you don't. You got to be careful.

That's -- they risked a lot.


ARNOLD: I tweeted a lot to watch out because I could see it coming, because she, you know, has a lot of -- by the way, this monkey thing is something she's tweeted before about black people. Why is it OK?

It's a meme that she and thousands of her alt-right fans do. They love calling black people monkeys. It's not a one time joke, OK?

COOPER: She said something about Susan Rice a couple of years ago referencing --

ARNOLD: Right. Well, no, but there's more. Look on her tweet -- they do it because we have a white trash racist president. That's a fact. Donald Trump -- Roseanne and I have both known him 30 years. That's an absolute fact.

And instead of saying, Donald Trump going, OK, everybody, hold on together -- he says, oh my gosh, what about me? That's insane that he's like, what about people making fun of me? How about stopping it?

COOPER: When you were married to Roseanne, I mean, you also worked with her on the original "Roseanne" show --


COOPER: -- did she display any signs of racism or xenophobia or conspiracy theory kind of beliefs?

ARNOLD: When I met Roseanne, I just worked in a meat packing plant for three years in Iowa. She was a little older. She was a feminist. I never been (ph) a feminist even.

She was so much more involved that I was. I mean, I was a meatpacker, and a bouncer, and a young comic. And I learned so much from her about, you know, about not just be a liberal, but about that kind of thinking.

You know, I grew up in southeast Iowa, so I never been around different kinds of people. So, I mean --

COOPER: So what do you think it is that changed her? I mean, because clearly, what you are saying is the person you knew when you first met her and when you were married, obviously, you know, she's talked about mental health issues before.

ARNOLD: No, mental -- yes.

COOPER: But these conspiracy theories, and, obviously, these racist statements. What do you think it is?

ARNOLD: I -- you know, I have mental health issues myself. Roseanne obviously does. It's something that -- you know, right before we got married, I went to rehab. You know, I'm an alcoholic and drug -- recovery from both of those. She was there for me.

And then after we got married, you know, we dealt with her mental health issues as a family.

[20:25:00] And she's done amazing with that. And, you know, it's something that she's dealt with and I can see that.

It's a thing about -- I have to say this about the president we have and his gaslighting and lying. You can see him perpetuating mental health issues for the entire country. Every day he gets on TV and lies and he perpetuates fear and anxiety. He never says things are great. He says, oh my gosh, look how dangerous it is in the inner city and black people.

And I generally believe he thinks black people are dangerous and Mexicans are rapists. He believes that. As he perpetuates that fear to America, watch out Mueller is lying, he is after me. And so, Americans are sitting home like Roseanne and her fans, are like, oh my God, what is happening out there? And they get anxiety.

Anyone with mental health issues like Roseanne is going to heighten things. And she is having mental health issues right now. And I am sure that's part of this. It doesn't make it OK.

COOPER: Yes, yes.

ARNOLD: They had to cancel the show.

COOPER: You told "The Hollywood Reporter," that Roseanne in your view may have wanted the show to be canceled.

ARNOLD: A hundred -- 100 percent.

COOPER: Why do you think that is? I mean, I think you were intimating in the interview that, you know, she does something and it's successful and she's not happy with it or she feels she's being mistreated or something? Is that -- why do you think she wanted to cancel?

ARNOLD: What I feel from day one, you know, she didn't get creative by credit on her show. What I felt which is -- it was not her fault. Obviously, she deserved it.

So, from day one on the "Roseanne" show, you know, she felt like, OK -- I'm not getting -- you know, there's always been that. So, I feel like, you know, that she probably -- you know, as I'm watching this happen -- by the way, I keep -- she keeps sabotaging things. The Parkland kids, she called them one of them Nazi, and then they had to take it down. So, she throws Nazi around a lot.

So, I'm talking to my former step kids who I love and, you know, they are suffering through this. So, I look at it like, as this is going on, like also -- once you have step kids, you also see them as kids even though they are 40. And you know they're suffering.

COOPER: Yes. ARNOLD: So, you see this happening publicly. So, I tell them, listen, first of all, I would love it if she came out and said, OK, I'm sorry, I have gotten too into this thing, maybe I need to step back. And maybe her fans would see this -- I wonder one Donald Trump supporter, one person that's all in on all this conspiracy, Hillary is a pedophile, Obama is whatever, to say, wait a minute, maybe that's not true. Maybe everything Trump says is not, you know --


ARNOLD: Just the whole country doesn't say (ph).

But anyway, so as this weekend approach, I can see it coming, I can see things going, and I tweeted at Wanda Sykes, because Wanda Sykes is like impeach Trump, and I said, hey, it's too bad you aren't on a TV show. And she is the head writer of "Roseanne". It's too bad you aren't on a TV and you could do something about it.

It's none of my business by stacking (ph) it in there. And Roseanne put a picture of Hillary Clinton next to a donkey with buck teeth. For some reason, she did -- I said to Roseanne's daughter, your mommy needs to apologize to Hillary Clinton.


COOPER: I know you were trying -- you were hoping that somebody in her life would basically kind of intervene, take -- kind of get -- take her off twitter. I got to get a quick break in, Tom, if you could just stick around. I want to talk you to on the other side of this.

We'll be right back.


[20:32:17] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're back now talking with Tom Arnold. Roseanne Barr's ex-husband. Appreciate you sticking around.

Do you think that Roseanne has people in her orbit right now, who -- you know, who can kind of intercede, who can maybe get her off Twitter or help her out in terms of how she should move forward in this?

TOM ARNOLD, ROSEANNE BARR'S EX-HUSBAND: I hope they are fired today. You know, like I've been there 24 years. I -- you know, today, obviously, they -- no, obviously. But, I sense that today after something like that, that maybe that people close ranks. And, you know, I know her son did as good a job as humanly possible of taking down stuff on Twitter, trying to keep, you know, our kids are amazing kids, they do everything humanly possible. You know, and they love their mom so much.

And -- you know, maybe this is for the best the family to pull together now and just be a family. And so I -- you know, there is nobody -- there's no, you know, other people -- somebody could have done -- there are a million things. I was offered, I said listen, you know, say -- tell your mom that Donald Trump doesn't carry his own phone. He has a dude do it. And he thinks of the tweets as another guy, he saw important as the other guy type it. And then she won't carry her own phone, they'll like -- or have a fake phone. All right, there's way to do a phone that goes into another server. I had a whole bunch of ideas.

COOPER: You know, let me ask you, because one of our former guests was saying that, you know, he felt that President Trump had been friends with Roseanne for, you know, for decades and decades. I understand that you actually question whether President Trump was really ever a fan of hers or just wanted to take credit for her ratings. Because I know, you say that one time Mr. Trump criticized her directly to you after your divorce.

ARNOLD: Well, we feel the HBO special, his -- the Trump Castle. I knew him better than Roseanne. He used to come to my sports show. I was playboy with Donald Trump. I was the creepy guy who went to visit Karen McDougal. I know a little bit. Donald Trump, he saw at friends with anybody. OK, once we were at -- I think it was Elton John's AIDS for the Oscars.

COOPER: The Oscar Party, which -- we actually have a picture of --

ARNOLD: Oh my god.

COOPER: -- him talking to you, there.

ARNOLD: OK, OK. This happened. He's with Melania and I'm with my wife at the time Shelly Roots (ph) is a political consultant. And he said to me, oh my gosh, you married up in the world which yes, like and he goes, Roseanne was disgusting. And he said that to me its like out of the blue. Like, you know what, no matter what kind of divorce you had, that's a weird thing to say. That is in the moment. Like I'm looking to him like what?

[20:35:05] COOPER: That's what is happening in that picture?

ARNOLD: That is what is happening in that moment is such a weird -- I mean everything, why would he, like why offer that? Like just sort of dead-eyed just offer that thing, like it was weird, because it why I had during divorce, just to offer that matter of fact no reason.

COOPER: So when you heard the President essentially embracing her for her ratings saying he called her up in that speech, talking about, you know, how great the ratings were and there was about us or you know that was the term he used talking in front of his audience. Do you think it was genuine?

ARNOLD: No, I think it was sad. There's like all the people that today I'm sure disappear from Roseanne's life, there's all kinds of alt-right. You know, there's -- the people who want to start a race war, civil war, that they're all gone. All of the people that were just worshiping her, they (INAUDIBLE) people yesterday, they're gone, because she has no show today. So there is that.

And so, you know, that's sad. COOPER: Yes.

ARNOLD: But it's also sad that she called black people monkeys, because that hurts people's feelings. And I'm tired of white people go on -- well I'm going to make -- it's OK for us. You know, we didn't mean it. It's ridiculous in this country that we're justifying it. And Michael Caputo or whatever, hey that's a, what did he call it? A trope? Well, that's ridiculous. Shut up. It hurts people's feelings. We -- what is wrong with us.

COOPER: Certainly a racist comment and --

ARNOLD: It is.

COOPER: -- she said, that --


COOPER: Tom Arnold, appreciate talking to you. I'm sorry under these circumstances.

ARNOLD: Buddy. All right.

COOPER: Thanks very much. We should say that obviously Tom's views are obviously his own. We appreciate him being with us.

Up next, we have breaking news. The "New York Times" is reporting tonight that former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe wrote a confidential memo aspiring which offered significant new details about the firing of his predecessor James Comey. Details on that, when we continue.


[20:40:57] COOPER: There's breaking news tonight, the "New York Times" is reporting that former FBI acting director Andrew McCabe wrote a confidential memo last spring, outlining new details behind the firing of his predecessor James COmey.

Joining us now by phone is Katie Benner of the "New York Times."

So Katie, can you just explain what the "Times" now -- the story that just broken?

KATIE BENNER, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Sure, absolutely. So the "Times" focused story showing that Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI had conversations with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. In which Rosenstein said that he had spoken with the President about reason to fire Jim Comey. And that the President had wanted Rosenstein to write a letter, saying that among the reasons why Comey needed to be fired has something to do with Russia, this worry the deputy director of the FBI, who wrote a memo about this conversation after work, saying that, he worried that there was something about Russia and the firing of the FBI director Jim Comey that made him pause and of course now we know that the firing of Jim Comey is the center of the Mueller investigation and to Russian interference and the election.

COOPER: And so Rosenstein according to the reporting chose not to mention Russia in the memo that he put out, that he authored explaining the firing of Comey.

BENNER: Absolutely. So, for whatever reason in this, we don't know Rosenstein decided that Russia was not necessary to mention despite his conversations to the President. And he said he stuck to the story, that Jim Comey had acted inappropriately when he disclosed the investigation of Hillary Clinton or use of a private e-mail server and other (INAUDIBLE) around the election. So, you know, the story that we know that Rosenstein wrote was one thing, but we also that President was urging him to write something else having to do with Russia.

COOPER: Now, I think in the article, I just got a quick read of it. There was at least one unnamed person who tried to perhaps explain that the President wasn't talking about, basically, want -- the mention about Russia referred to the President wanting Rosenstein to say in the memo that the President was not under investigation regarding Russia, is that correct?

BENNER: Yes, that's correct. And as we know from Jim Comey's memos and his book, and his gazillion (ph) speeches, that its clear that according to Comey, the President was obsessed with his idea of somebody publicly curing (ph) him and say that he was not a subject of anything, any investigation related to Russia, so that would be a huge surprise here. You know, its interesting though is that Rosenstein wrote this letter, he told Congress in the aftermath with Jim Comey firing last year, that he had not in it for the expressed purpose of having Jim Comey fire I believed he said, that it was not to be a pre- text for a firing.

And yet he clearly knew that this is what Trump wanted. And that, you know, be hard -- it will be hard to imagine that he could have these conversations and not know exactly what the President was going to do with any letters he produced.

COOPER: And according to the "Times" reporting, Mueller is interested in this letter or that McCabe has already turned it over to the special counsel, is that correct?

BENNER: Absolutely. So according to reporting, McCabe question the several of the special counsel and it raises the questions of whether or not Rod Rosenstein should be recused. He oversees the Mueller investigation because he has to, because Jeff Sessions recused himself. Because if they watch him, you know, in the run up in the election, they ask (INAUDIBLE). So should Rosenstein now be recused? Is he really the right person to oversee an investigation into a man who he may had helped in the chaotic days after -- you know, the election and just before (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: And I think Rosenstein had given an interview a while back in which I think is quoted in the "Times" piece, this evening in which Rosenstein essentially says he is in communication with Mueller and if Mueller ever tells him that he is a, you know, witness or believes that Mueller should step aside, that he would -- I mean, that if Rosenstein should step aside, Rosenstein says he would.

BENNER: That's absolutely correct. And so far as we know, Mueller hasn't done that. Because we're going to take Rosenstein to this part, that he would recuse himself if necessary.

[20:45:06] But again, that doesn't raise the -- that doesn't take away the issue of optics. Now keep in mind, that Andy McCabe himself was fired by the Justice Department and Attorney Jeff Sessions because he -- there was also question of whether or not McCabe should have early recused himself around anything to do with Hillary Clinton and then the inspector general (INAUDIBLE) he wasn't forth coming in interviews. So, you know, this is almost a Shakespearean level of drama and betrayal and intertwined fortunes that we're seeing quite out here.

COOPER: Yes, extremely fascinating. The story breaking tonight. Katie Benner, thank you very much.

Joining us now is CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero. I mean Carrie, if the President did ask Rosenstein to mention Russia in his memo, about firing Comey. And again, we don't know in what way he was asked to mention Russia, is that problematic?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well it raises a big question. Look, one of the big mysteries of the spring of 2017 is why Rod Rosenstein wrote the memo that then was used to justify the firing of Director Comey. This adds new dimension as to whether or not the President actually informed him that the Russia investigation was behind the President's thinking. And so then it raises even more questions about why Mr. Rosenstein wrote that memo. But he has maintained in his public testimony that he wrote it based on his assessment of Director Comey's performance in the job.

COOPER: Right. And of course -- I mean this didn't happen in a vacuum. You then have the President going, you know, that interview with Lester Holt talking following they saying, talking about Russia and then talking to Russian officials who were in the Oval Office about the firing of Comey as well. How much will the President's intention behind firing Comey play into any possible or any consideration of an obstruction of justice case?

CORDERO: His intent in firing Comey and I think is one of the critical pieces of an obstruction case. I think that the special counsel's looking at obstruction or looking at from the perspective of a variety of things, the President has done including intimidating witnesses, firing people, trying to derail the investigation. But the firing of the FBI director, the chief investigator is one of the main things.

And Rod Rosenstein's role in that, was very curious at that time, but I will say that since that time, he has done everything he possibly can. It appears to try to protect the integrity of this investigation. So he is the one who selected Bob Mueller as the special counsel. He has publicly taken on oversight of that investigation. He has provided the scope of the investigation, he's providing the resources. He's -- make sure the FBI is responsive and coordinating with it.

So he has done everything in his power I believe since that particular incident which again is very curious to protect the integrity of this investigation. And I think that he is real lynch pin for making sure that investigation continues to its full course.

COOPER: Yes. Carrie Corder, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Coming up next, with the White House is saying now that a conservative Republican congressman who seen the classified information, is debunking the President's leading conspiracy theory about a spy in his campaign. Keeping them honest, next.


[20:52:19] COOPER: Well, its one thing when the member of the opposition party says the President is wrong or full of it or sometimes worse. It's another thing when a member of his own party does. And yet another still when that person has access to much the same information, the same fact base that the President does.

Yesterday, and again today, that's exactly what happened. A Republican, staunchly conservative Republican, in fact, politely called out the President on what has become a steady refrain from the President and his supporters in Congress and on the air, the refrain the President and others have been repeating over and over again is that President Obama placed a spy inside the Trump campaign.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Major developments again tonight on the deep state spying on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To spy on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spy on the Trump campaign.

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: I'm shocked to hear that they put a spy in the campaign.

HANNITY: Deep state spying, scheme.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spy inside the Trump campaign back to the FBI.


GIULIANI: Or maybe two spies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks as if there could have been a second spy.

HANNITY: These spy revelations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spies in this campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ran a spy ring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A spy to infiltrate his campaign.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The spying they did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To spy on the Republican candidate for President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's a spy, they got nothing from it.

HANNITY: People look at spygate.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This whole spygate thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now the spygate, wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spygate, if, in fact, this occurred, could be one of the biggest scandals in history.


COOPER: Well, keeping 'em honest, though, saying the word "spy" or "spygate" doesn't make it so. And you'll note from the banner below me this is our third go at this. What this is really about is the confidential source, the FBI employed to approach three members of the Trump campaign, two whom had pre-existing suspicious contact with Russians.

Now, as you know, the President, his attorney, and House Republicans pushed for and got a pair of briefings on this source from the FBI and Justice Department. Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy sat in sort as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

Well, last night, Congressman Gowdy spoke out for the first time about what he learned in the briefing. He told Fox News, "I'm even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got and it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

Today on CBS this morning, he elaborated.


REP. TREY GOWDY, (R) CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: When the FBI comes into contact with information about what a foreign government may be doing in our election cycle, I think they have an obligation to run it out.

What I have seen, I don't know what the FBI could have done or should have done other than run out a lead that someone loosely connected with the campaign was making assertions about Russia. I would think you would want the FBI to find out whether or not there was any validity to what those people were saying.


COOPER: In other words, the congressman or Republican congressman, or former federal prosecutor, he was saying this was the FBI doing its job. Not the FBI doing a job on the Trump campaign.


[20:55:04] GOWDY: I think the FBI, if they were at the table this morning, they would tell you, Russia was the target, and Russia's intentions towards our country were the target. The fact that two people who were loosely connected with the Trump campaign may have been involved doesn't diminish the fact that Russia was the target and not the campaign.


COOPER: Well, as for Congressman Nunes, who's been accused of carrying water for the White House before, he has said nothing about the briefing. Silence. And we would love to talk to him. In fact, one of our producers spent the day trying just to locate him. She found no schedule of any public appearances on his website, no public events at all. She called, texted, e-mailed his press person, no reply. Congress, of course, is not in session, so she tried his home office in California, staffers would not tell her his schedule. No answer either from another district office. She even called the local paper. Nobody knew anything about his schedule. The Congressman, they said, had blacklisted them.

Our producer even called the spokesperson for the chairman of the California Republican Party, who didn't know either where to find the Congressman. Devin Nunes, it seems, has gone dark, so we can't get his reaction as to what his colleague, Trey Gowdy had said. As for the White House, take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, now that Trey Gowdy who has actually seen all the classified information on what the FBI was doing says that there is nothing to the allegations that they were spying on the Trump campaign, and in fact, Gowdy says that the FBI was doing exactly what they should have been doing, given what Trey Gowdy has said, is the President prepared now to retract his allegation that the FBI was spying on his campaign?

SARAH SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: No, clearly, there's still cause for concern that needs to be looked at. Let's not forget that the deputy director of the FBI was actually fired for misconduct. The President's concerned about the matter and we're going to continue to follow the issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Gowdy was in the briefing. He knows what was done. And he is saying these allegations are baseless.

SANDERS: Again -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That there was no spying on the Trump campaign.

SANDERS: Certainly, the President feels that there is cause for concern and it should be looked at.


COOPER: Well, keeping 'em honest, this has been looked at by a member of the President's own party, who's seen the evidence. Yet the White House keeps making claims without offering any evidence of its own. As we said a moment ago, this is our third time around. It's also hardly the first time that the President has floated a claim, offered little or no evidence, and see it sink.

There was unfounded and unproven one about President Obama wiretapping Trump Tower, then the Devin Nunes improper unmasking scandal, which turned out to be ginned up by the White House and Devin Nunes. There was the President suggestion he taped conversations with James Comey, which he later himself contradicted and the secret society of the FBI which was actually running joke between two agents.

And of course, the long-running claim that the Steele dossier sparked the Russia probe. The House intelligence committee laid that when to rest saying in their final Russia report that the FBI, "opened an enterprise counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign after receiving information related to Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos."

We're going to talk more about this in the next hour with former CIA director Michael Hayden.

Also coming up, more on the President's reaction to the tweet that got "Roseanne" canceled.