Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Has Been Meeting with Lawyers, Going Over Written Answers to Mueller Questions; Interview with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D), California; "Washington Post:" President Trump Lawyer Says Some Mueller Questions "Create More Issues For Us Legally Than Others;" Florida Senate Race Headed To A Manual Recount; Broward County Misses Recount Deadline By Two Minutes; President Trump Attends Two Military Events While Facing Veterans Day Criticism; Judge Postponed Decision Over Revoked Press Pass. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired November 15, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening from Washington, D.C.

There is breaking election news out of Florida. Hand recount being ordered in the undecided Senate contest there. And it turns out that this happened without more than 700,000 ballots from Florida's second biggest county. The reason for that: a deadline missed by just a few minutes.

No recount in the governor's race, which now appears all but over. We'll bring you that shortly.

We begin, though, tonight, keeping them honest, with an eruption of presidential anger at the Russian investigation. Now, however, you see it, it's clear that Robert Mueller is very much on the president's mind. He's been meeting with lawyers, going over written answers to questions that one of his attorneys told "The Washington Post" included and I'm quoting here, "possible traps."

And with the special counsel's next legal move expected shortly, perhaps involving people close to the president, the president woke up this morning and began tweeting.

Quote: The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess, he tweeted. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our nation and don't care how many lives they ruin. These are angry people, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller who worked for Obama for eight years. They won't even look at all the bad acts and crimes on the other side.

And then in all caps, quote: A total witch hunt like no other in American history.

Now, in a subsequent tweet, the president says, quote: universities will some day study what highly conflicted and not Senate approved Bob Mueller and his gang of Democrat thugs have done to destroy people. Now, clearly, he's not a fan, but keeping them honest, you can take a

dim view of the investigation on any number of grounds without uttering a single falsehood, which is not what the president does here. For starters, if Robert Mueller is a thug, he's a registered Republican one.

As for the president's claim, he worked eight years for President Obama, suggesting as Mr. Obama's FBI director, he was not. He was the country's FBI director for four years during the Obama administration and eight years during this president's tenure.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. General, thank you for being here.

It is my honor to nominate Robert S. Mueller of California to become the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


COOPER: That is no (ph) Democrat George W. Bush.

As for not being Senate-approved, Robert Mueller was confirmed 98-0 in 2001, 100-0 when President Obama renominated him. But, no, as special counsel, he was not Senate confirmed, that's because special counsels don't receive Senate confirmation.

As for the president's claim that the Mueller investigation has found no collusion with Russia during the campaign or subsequently, that's not a factual statement. The special counsel has said nothing one way or the other. We have no idea what, if anything, Mueller has found regarding allegations of collusion.

We do know he's already indicted Russians for allegedly collaborating with Americans. He's already indicted one of the participants of the now famous Trump Tower meeting during the campaign. He's reportedly focusing on others, and now could be on the verge of indicting one or more Trump associates with actual ties to WikiLeaks, which in turn has tied to emails hacked by the Russians. Now, of course, it's possible the president's rage stems from being falsely accused.

But Robert Mueller has yet to accuse him of anything. It's also possible the president sees the walls closing in and is lashing out. Whatever the case, he seems once again to be saying things that increase, not diminish, the scrutiny on him.

There's new reporting as well in tonight's "Washington Post". We touched on it briefly at the top of the broadcast.

Josh Dawsey has got additional word on the written questions President Trump is working with his legal team to answer, and which ones could be trouble.

So, Josh, which questions are the president's lawyers planning on answering and which ones aren't they planning to answer, do you know? JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well,

that's a good question, Anderson. I could not give you answer to that today. I talked to Rudy Giuliani, the president's main lawyer today, obviously the former mayor of New York, who said they received the written questions, and they have not decided if they were going to answer some, because they thought they could be trapped, so problematic. I pressed him on what questions those were he would not say.

What we know is that there are at least two dozen questions or so that all focus on pre-2016 Election Day, the campaign and they focused on alleged collusion, according to Mayor Giuliani. So, we know about the questions that they are up to November 2016. The president's lawyers have met with him for maybe 10 or 15 hours this week looking at them and they're still wrangling with how many of them they want to answer and how many of them they don't.

COOPER: So, are the questions focused on the pre -- before the president became -- the president when he was president-elect ad during the campaign, because that's all Mueller was interested in or because that's all the president's team were willing to answer? And --

DAWSEY: Well, that's all they've -- that's all they've agreed to answer, Anderson. They have not agreed to answer anything about obstruction or anything post-election day or the transition. The president's team has been very reticent to agree to any sort of questions after he began president, citing privilege, saying that should not be part of the investigation.

[20:05:03] And there's a lot of internal discussions going on about whether they will answer any of those in the future.

The only thing they've agreed to is considered questions before election day, and as we reported this afternoon, it's unclear whether they're going to even answer all of those or not.

COOPER: And Giuliani wouldn't specify which questions create more legal issues for them than others?

DAWSEY: No, he would not, he would not.

COOPER: Lastly, I know you have some new details about a conversation between Lindsey Graham and Acting Attorney General Whitaker today.

DAWSEY: Right. Senator Graham, a South Carolina Republican, met with Acting Attorney General Whitaker on Capitol Hill. Senator Graham spoke to me tonight. He said that the acting attorney general said he would not recuse himself from the probe, as many Democrats, including Senator Mark Warner, want him to do, said he did not need to recuse himself. But that he also had not spoken to special counsel Mueller about the investigation yet, and would be following regular order where special counsel Mueller reports to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.

Senator Graham said he committed to not shutting down the investigation in this meeting, and said that whatever opinions he had in the private sector before coming in, obviously Matt Whitaker was very critical of the investigation, would not be part of his thinking now. So, we shall see.

COOPER: All right. Josh Dawsey, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

DAWSEY: Thank you.

COOPER: I want to get more perspective now from one lawmaker who may soon be looking a whole lot closer into all of this, California Democrat Eric Swalwell, who sits on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. I spoke to him just before air.


COOPER: This notion that the president and his team are not answering any questions about possible obstruction of justice or anything about his time as president, does that surprise you that Mueller went along with that?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I think Mueller wants to give him every opportunity to give his version of events, so that knowing the way the president conducts himself and he undermines and attacks the investigation, when a report comes out, I don't think Mueller wants the president to say, I didn't have my chance to tell my side of the story. So, I think it's brilliant the way Mueller is doing it. And the president is certainly not acting like an innocent person. I think he's given the president more and more rope to hang himself.

COOPER: Giuliani was saying to "The Washington Post" that there's some issues legally for them, some of the questions create more issues legally for them than others.

SWALWELL: That's what someone who would have a lot of exposure would probably say. Again, if you typically didn't do anything wrong, and you just answer the questions and come clean.

COOPER: So the notion of a perjury trap, you don't buy?

SWALWELL: A perjury trap can only capture perjurers and so, I don't buy that if the president didn't do anything wrong.

COOPER: The -- as far as Whitaker's assurances to Lindsey Graham, according to Lindsey Graham and "The Washington Post", that he won't shut down the Mueller investigation, do you put much faith in that? Because frankly all we know about Whitaker's opinion of it is based on what he said prior to assuming power and prior to him having access to the information.

SWALWELL: We know a few things about Whitaker. We know that he's prejudged the Mueller investigation. We know that he has plotted with President Trump, according to Vox reporting to put himself into this investigation and to wind it down. So I don't really necessarily trust Lindsey Graham's opinion. I'd rather see Whitaker ask the office of ethics as to whether he's recused himself, and for that opinion from the ethics office to be made public.

COOPER: You think he should recuse himself?

SWALWELL: Yes. Well, I think he should ask, but I don't see how there's not the perception of a conflict. For two reasons, one, he's prejudging, but also the relationship he was with the key witness in the investigation, Sam Clovis. He was Sam Clovis' treasurer. Sam Clovis was a key witness in the George Papadopoulos part of the investigation, where Papadopoulos has pled guilty. Yes, and work for the campaign.

COOPER: I know you said that you want Congress to pass a bill to protect Mueller. Republicans showed no sign of having any interest in that. Even after the Democrats, you know, assume power in the House, they're still going to control the Senate.

SWALWELL: Well, Mitch McConnell has shown no sign of interest, but bipartisan Republicans from Chuck Grassley and others on the judiciary committee in the Senate passed legislation to protect Mueller. McConnell is subverting the will of the majority and not even allowing a vote.

Now, on the House side, you're right. We haven't seen any interest at all. But as we have this budget showdown, Democrats are telling Republicans in the House that if you want us to give you votes because they're unable to get the votes on their own, you're going to need to protect the Mueller legislation in that.

COOPER: So, you're optimistic it could still happen?

SWALWELL: Yes, if they want our votes. For two years, the Republicans have controlled the House, the Senate, and White House and they've not been able to pass a budget without Democratic votes. And this time, we're going to say that the cost of that is going to be to protect the rule of law and to protect Mueller.

COOPER: Congressman Swalwell, thanks.

SWALWELL: Yes. My pleasure.


COOPER: Well, a lot to talk about. A lot of people with views on it. It almost feels like election night.


COOPER: Norm Eisen is with us, author of "The Last Palace: Europe's Turbulent Century and Five Lives and One Legendary House". Also David Chalian, Gloria Borger, Kirsten Powers, Paul Begala, Rick Santorum and David Urban.

Senator Santorum, you're watching Congressman Swalwell there. When he says that Whitaker is compromised because he was the treasurer for a campaign of Sam Clovis, you say that's just absurd? [20:10:05] RICK SANTORUM, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean,

really? I mean, it's just -- it's so attenuated. Even the assertion that he's prejudged the case -- I mean, the reality is, that he was a pundit on this network, and he made comments that, you know, he did as a private citizen making punditary comments --

COOPER: Before he'd actually seen any actual documentation --


BORGER: Is punditary a word? Punditary?

SANTORUM: I just created it.


SANTORUM: We break ground here on ANDERSON COOPER, OK?


DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You're never going to be attorney general.

SANTORUM: That's it, I'm done.

So no, the -- he's now on a role where he has a responsibility, if you look at the way he behaved as, you know, in the attorney general's office, he's going to do what the president, you know, says with respect to being attorney general, except as you heard from Lindsey Graham, with respect to the Mueller investigation. This is -- Lindsey is going to be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He sat down and talked with him.

I think -- I know Matt Whitaker. I don't know him well, but I know him well enough. He's going to do the job. He's not going to inject himself into the middle of the Mueller probe, let me assure you.


PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The job is to starve the Mueller probe. It's the words that Mr. Whitaker used.

This president, God bless him, he's so transparent. It's interesting. He lies all the time about matters in substance, but about his own thoughts and feelings, I really admire how he's so wide open. Even in an interview to "The Daily Caller" asked him about maybe Chris Christie permanently replacing Whitaker, what did Trump say? He didn't say, well, Christie had been a U.S. attorney, he's qualified. He started talking about Mueller.

He explained, I mean, I will read it to you. He talked about the legal opinion that said he could appoint Whitaker, and then he said, and as you know, I'm concerned this is an investigation that should have never been brought. It should never been had. It's something that should never been brought. It's an illegal investigation. So, you asked him about Matt Whitaker and he says the investigation is

illegal. He's de facto ordering Whitaker to shut it down and Whitaker is going to do it if they don't pass some law.


URBAN: That's been nonstop Matt Whitaker, Mueller. Nonstop -- so, that's what he's talking about. Of course --


BEGALA: Hi, Bob. How are you? I don't have the Domino's guy chained up in the basement. Like whoa --

URBAN: Way to try to hang him. It's not going to stick.

COOPER: Kirsten, do you --

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't understand why what Matt Whitaker says as a pundit isn't relevant. I mean, you're acting like there's some magic wall between what happens here and rest of the --


URBAN: There is.

SANTORUM: You take an oath of office --

POWERS: But your opinions expressed here don't just disappear because you took an oath. I mean, he expressed some pretty severe opinions, I would say, including talking about --

COOPER: Do you believe that's why he got the job?

POWERS: Yes, absolutely. I mean, the president, there's no question the president wants somebody who is going to do his bidding on this. So I don't know how you can be so dismissive of the things he said.

BORGER: I don't think it's about shutting down the Mueller investigation, because I do think there'd be an outcry. And I do think Rod Rosenstein, by the way, is still involved. Whitaker is his boss, but Rosenstein is still involved.

I think where Whitaker becomes hugely important is when Mueller issues his report, does he redact it, does he say this is not for the American public to view? This needs to remain private.

And then you end up with a huge constitutional fight here on your hand, and I think the president would like it to be deep sixed. And maybe Whitaker would agree with him on that, and that's a problem.

COOPER: David, just moving on to the president's tweets, why do you think he is so worked up, agitated, worked up, whatever -- however you want to describe it? Clearly, he's going over it with his lawyers about it. CHALIAN: That's why. He spent three days, the last three days with

his lawyers. I mean, look at Donald Trump and how he has behaved as a private citizen and now as president relating to this probe. We know how much this probe is under his skin. So, sitting in a room with his lawyers being forced to confront the reality of this probe and not just the created reality on Twitter for Donald Trump is a whole different universe.

And so, he's clearly, A, frustrated. But B, trying to set a predicate for this report whenever it comes out for how it's going to be received in public. The only thing I would say to you, we know from Donald Trump that there's one reason Jeff Sessions was fired, right? One reason, because he recused himself from the probe.

BEGALA: Correct.

CHALIAN: So the Whitaker replacement was to get someone who did not recuse themselves from the probe. That's the entire reason why sessions -- why the vacancy existed and he found somebody who he wouldn't have that kind of an original sin with. So, I don't know how you can --

SANTORUM: That horse is out of the barn. I mean, you can't put the Mueller probe back in a rewind. I mean, it's there, it's probably close to the conclusion. They're going to be issuing a report. You just can't shut it down at this point.


CHALIAN: -- is to deny reality. Like to deny --

SANTORUM: Trump's idea of what -- I agree with Kirsten that he picked Whitaker because he wanted someone who was going to be tough on the probe.

CHALIAN: OK. It sounded like you did not think that.


SANTORUM: But the reality is, he can't be, and won't be, because it's just politically untenable to do so.


NORM EISEN, BOARD CHAIR, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: That is not right. There are a thousand ways that he can choke off, that Whitaker with choke off this probe, and he signaled them on CNN as the president was sitting in his pajamas, eating ice cream and watching television. That's why the president picked him.

And you cannot be certain of what Whitaker will do. He can cut the funding, he can refuse to turn that report over. He could gut the report.

There could be a court fight about executive privilege on the report. What the president has done, this is not just a question of his outrageous behavior towards sessions, because of Sessions' independence. This comes in the pattern of firing Comey, as well. The president wants a lap dog, and that is contrary to what we get at the Department of Justice.

SANTORUM: First off, Matt's not a lap dog.

URBAN: Let's just skip forward and we get to the report. Let's assume the report comes out, what then? And the glorious part, there's going to be parts excised. The House is going to ask for it.

This is actually -- this is a political exercise, as you all know, right? The president is not going to be indicted. He's not going to -- this is about impeachment, which is a political exercise. Is it the political will --


URBAN: There will be a battle about executive privilege. At the end of the day, this is -- will the House of Representatives impeach -- are there high crimes and misdemeanors that the president has committed that the House will move to impeach? That's what it's about. Otherwise, it's going to be over and everyone is going to move on.

COOPER: Isn't there some value in understanding what happened, whether or not it's impeachable, whether --

URBAN: Absolutely. But I'm saying, this is really -- this is why is the president tweeting, why is he doing it? This is a political battle.

The senator was there, I was there in the Senate for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. The House -- the Senate didn't want to impeach Bill Clinton. The House wanted to impeach him. And ultimately, he wasn't impeached because it was a political loser.


URBAN: And that's what it's trying to be set up here. I guarantee, when it gets to the Senate, if the House does impeach, it will be dropped like a hot potato, just like the Clinton impeachment. So, that's what is going to happen at the end of the day.

BORGER: I think the president has spent the last month before crowds that adore him, and he was all excited about the election. And it didn't go that well. He comes back to the stark reality of three days with your lawyers, which would drive anybody crazy.

And he realizes, and the answers -- I mean, this is an open book take home test that his lawyers have done the answers for, for him. They're going over these answers, and it's difficult. As Rudy Giuliani pointed out, and by the way, if I were the other lawyers, I would be so furious that Giuliani, he shouldn't be doing this --

COOPER: By giving an interview -- BORGER: Yes. I mean, saying, you know, some of these are

problematic, some of them are irrelevant, some of them are perjury traps. Really?

I mean, Bob Mueller can ask what he wants. It's not going to help the president for Rudy to be saying this out loud. And then, so the president now -- they have to -- they have to make sure everything is accurate. And so, they've written these answers.

The president has to sit down with him and he has to say, well, yes and no. It happened that way and it didn't happen that way. And he's frustrated because he doesn't like the process, and by the way, there's no guarantee that he won't have to testify on obstruction.

This is just part one. This is collusion. There's another charge --

URBAN: That will be a whole different set of constitutional --

BORGER: That will be privileged, but Mueller has not given him any promises about part two.

URBAN: Mueller has said they will follow the DOJ guidelines.

EISEN: Part one is very problematic. Remember, Giuliani says, we can't answer some of this.

BORGER: Right.


EISEN: It's the president realizing oh, my God, before I even get to what we thought was the problem, obstruction, I've got collusion problems. That's why you get these crazy tweets, collusion, no collusion.

COOPER: Let's take a quick break. We're going to pick up the conversation when we come back.

And also later, how a Florida U.S. Senate recount will play out in all the uniquely Florida factors that played into make thing such a close and chaotic race.


[20:23:28] COOPER: We're talking about the president's anger against the Russian investigation and the breaking news about the questions that he and his attorneys are said to be working on right now and have been for several days and what Robert Mueller's team might be getting ready to do, now that the midterms are behind us. It's certainly making for plenty of suspense and tension, apparently some venting by the president.

Back now with our team.

Does -- Gloria, I mean, when Rudy Giuliani speaks like this, does he have permission from the president? Is this like an organized strategy?

BORGER: No. But I do think -- I think that the lawyers who are doing the -- the Raskins, who are married couple, are doing the negotiating with the Mueller team, and I think Rudy Giuliani is sort of the president's spokesman. I think the president would like to have Rudy Giuliani more involved. I think the other attorneys would like to have Rudy Giuliani less involved.

And so, I think it's a sort of a bit of a tug of war. The president is very close to Rudy. He trusts him. He thinks Rudy understands what he's thinking, and he believes Giuliani has done a good job, and I think he's right about this, in discrediting Mueller.

COOPER: So, why would Mueller agree to just focusing -- to not dealing with any questions about obstruction and not anything while the president was president?

EISEN: Well, Bob is a shrewd player having worked on cases with him, having been against him. I think that he has wanted to go into a delay of game. It's like a four corners offense. He's using the clock to build his cases.

[20:25:01] I mean, Anderson, look, you've got the guilty pleas, you've got over charges -- 30 people and companies indicted. He's been turning. He's got Cohen in his corner now, Manafort, Gates. He's building a case. He's taken his time.

Trump thinks oh, great, I'm negotiating for all these months now. Bob is using the time. He knows what he's doing. He's getting answers on collusion.

People thought, well, maybe the president isn't exposed. Now we know from Rudy, there's some uncomfortable questions there. There is potential exposure for the president.

CHALIAN: And I don't think just because he isn't asking about obstruction now that we should assume Bob Mueller is never going to make a play to ask questions about obstruction.

COOPER: But how much time, I mean, but we don't know a time frame --

CHALIAN: I would be surprised if no question on --


CHALIAN: Yes, here's the question. Did you intend to obstruct justice? No. It's over. Move on.

BORGER: But it's not that simple.

URBAN: That's the question. That's how it's going to be answered. And that's it.

EISEN: Maybe he's not asking about obstruction because he has such a powerful case because the president can't shut up on television, at press conferences or Twitter. Maybe he has all the evidence he needs. I tend to agree with David, we don't know.


BEGALA: I think he wants the obstruction questions face to face, so he can look the president eye to eye and size him up. Mueller has had a lifetime of sizing up defendants. And I think that's the key to this --

COOPER: So, do you not believe that this is coming to an end?

BEGALA: Oh, it's coming to an end, but I don't think -- if I were Mueller, and he's way better than I am, but I wouldn't allow written questions on state of mind. That is, I don't want the president's lawyers to write this is what I was thinking.

We do have evidence already of what he was thinking. He told Lester Holt he fired Comey, quote, "because of this Russia thing." I don't know, maybe he fired him because of this Russia thing, which suggests there's obstruction of justice.

I would -- I would want it filmed so the American people could see it. My boss got interrogated by Ken Starr about obstruction of justice, and the whole world saw it. And I want this president, under oath, asked why he took these steps to obstruct justice. I think the evidence is clear that he did, but I still think that he ought to have the chance to answer those questions.

BORGER: The only reason that might not happen is because I don't think either side wants a lengthy subpoena battle.

URBAN: Right.

BORGER: And the president's lawyers would say you're not going to give them because of privilege issues. These are privilege conversations. If Mueller disagreed with that, then they'd have to go to a subpoena fight. This is where Mr. Whitaker comes in, because before you could get a subpoena, you would to go to Rod Rosenstein, or now Matt Whitaker.

URBAN: That would be decided by the court. That would not be decided --

BORGER: Well, but you have to get permission.

BEGALA: Right, you can't subpoena him without DOJ.

BORGER: You have to get approval. So, if Whitaker or Rosenstein said no, they couldn't do it.

URBANA: Again, we talked about it off camera, the Woodward book talked about Ty Cobb seeing Mueller and saying hey, look, I dare you, I double doc dare you, drop the mike and walked out of the room. And we haven't seen him much since then.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, do you think this is going to become -- do you think Mueller will get a chance to ask face to face about obstruction?

SANTORUM: No, of course. It would be malpractice on the part of his lawyers to allow that to happen.

BEGALA: Why? Why? Because he's guilty.

SANTORUM: No, no --


BEGALA: The only reason he's going to take the Fifth is because he's guilty.


SANTORUM: We know why --

BEGALA: We know why he fired Comey.

SANTORUM: No, if he's -- if he was trying to obstruct justice, he did a horrible job.


SANTORUM: No, he's not incompetent. The reality is he's not -- he's upset about it, he's vented about it. He said some intemperate things, but he's never done anything to obstruct this investigation.

POWERS: Why did he fire Comey?

SANTORUM: Well, there's a whole lot of reasons. Incompetence is probably a big one.

POWERS: He was incompetent?

URBAN: Listen, half the Democratic Party clapped when he fired Jim Comey.

SANTORUM: Come on, this is a guy who had a comedy of errors --


POWERS: But he said in an interview he fired him because of the Russia probe.

SANTORUM: Trump says lots of things. You're sitting here telling me that you believe the president when he said this, because most of the time you tell me you think he lies all the time when he's saying --

BEGALA: He lies about facts. He tells the truth about his --


SANTORUM: OK, selective --

BEGALA: He says horrible things about women, because that's what he thinks about women. He gets facts, he lies about facts --

SANTORUM: You can't choose your lies.

BEGALA: Donald Trump does every day.


SANTORUM: The president says things at the heat of the moment that sometimes don't accurately reflect reality.


SANTORUM: That's why you don't put him in front of the special counsel.

BORGER: You're his lawyer, you don't want him to testify.


URBAN: Would you put your client in front of him? No, you would fight like hell not.

SANTORUM: No way you would put your client --

URBAN: You would never -- you go tooth and nail. You'd never say, please go ahead --


EISEN: I once walked a client into Bob Mueller's office when he was the U.S. attorney in San Francisco. I cut a deal with the office. I knew the client was telling the truth. And I had no qualms at all about putting him . There are other times you don't. We know Trump --


EISEN: We know Trump is a born liar that's why nobody on this panel, as Lloyd (ph) would put them on. And Rick, I'm surprised at you because it's not just talk, it's action by Donald Trump.

It's firing Comey. It's helping his son cook up that phony statement. It's his constant attacks on Mueller and the rule of law. We have law in this country. It applies to all of us. The President is more than anyone.

SANTORUM: I think attacking Bob Mueller is not obstruction. Sorry, it's not.

EISEN: If he interferes, if he fired Comey, he took these other actions, he cooked up --

SANTORUM: There were lots of reasons to fire Jim Comey, lots.

EISEN: If he did it to interfere with this investigation -- let me finish.

SANTORUM: There are lots of reasons to fire Jim Comey.

EISEN: If he did it to interfere with this investigation to benefit himself, his friends or his family members, that's obstruction of justice and he's guilty.


URBAN: And listen, and Paul will tell you, the Clintons said lots of nasty things about Ken Starr and the (INAUDIBLE) said lots of nasty things.


SANTORUM: It's not obstruction. That's right. And it's not obstruction.

URBAN: They did all of that and they bang on them pretty hard.

BEGALA: I think the senator is right, it's not obstruction to criticize Mueller, either. There's an important difference. The president of the United States, when it was Bill Clinton, had absolutely no legal power to fire Ken Starr. He was unchecked, unbalanced and --


BEGALA: Totally independent.

URBAN: Right, I agree with. I'm 100 percent agree with you.

BEGALA: Mr. Mueller works directly for Donald Trump. And now the one go between is Mr. Whitaker who, is I think, going to do everything he can, as he promised, to starve this investigation that's why Whitaker --.


COOPER: If you're one of President Trump's attorneys, I imagine one of the difficulties is you're not sure if your client is telling you the factual version -- I mean, it could be his current version --

CHALIAN: I was just saying to Gloria during the commercial break, I was like, why do we believe that he's being 100 percent factual with his attorneys?

COOPER: We know he said things to Sarah Sanders which turned out not to be the case.

CHALIAN: Exactly. So even people who are in his confidence and in his circle, he doesn't have a track record necessarily of being 100 percent truthful with them. I think that's a very big question here is they --

URBAN: So, again, Norm, post the question of Norman, if he's your client, Norm. I mean, do you walk him down the hall?

EISEN: Trump?


EISEN: Never.


COOPER: We got all the time.

EISEN: Imagine the abnormality of the situation that we're in. Imagine if Bill Clinton had fired Janet Reno.



EISEN: He's fired the FBI director. He's fired his own attorney general. He's hired somebody who is a stooge for him who we knew the view.

BEGALA: That's right.

EISEN: He squeeze --


SANTORUM: Matt Whitaker is not a stooge.

EISEN: He's making his view clear that he want Matt to squeeze Mueller. Mueller has the power to be squeeze by Matt.


SANTORUM: This guy was a U.S. attorney. He's a --


URBAN: And he came on this network and said if you were going to do this, how would you do it? I mean, it's a political question post to a pundit on this network.

COOPER: All right. I want to thank everybody. Good non-election night coverage.

Here we go again, the deadline has come and gone in Florida. How many times have we said this over the years? With one race close enough to go to a hand recount, there's late word tonight that the recount in the state's second largest county won't count because they missed the deadline by two minutes. Details on that ahead.


[20:37:26] COOPER: Well, it's all happening again in Florida, minus the hanging chads of 2000, but with all the drama including a deadline missed by a matter of minutes. The headline is the U.S. Senate race in Florida is now headed to a hand recount. It is just that close. Rick Scott leading Bill Nelson by 0.15 percent.

The governor's race is outside the margin for a hand recount. That's where we stand after the deadline for the machine recounts past a few hours ago. But in Broward County, the recount didn't count because they missed the deadline by two minutes.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is in Tallahassee with the latest. First of all, what are you learning about the next phase of the recount?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we've entered a period of time now where these races have really consolidated after that first automatic recount of all the machines, the machine recount. And now we know that the Senate race is within a quarter of a percent, which is pretty small in the context of 8.5 million votes.

So what's going to happen now is all that 67 counties will begin a second phase of counting and they're going to manually recount all the under votes and the over votes that took place across the state. This is a pretty exhaustive process, but they have to have it done by Sunday with the goal of determining whether or not we can definitively say who won this election.

I should also point out, Anderson, that we were keeping a very close eye on the governor's race, as well. That was within a half a percentage point after the count finished on Saturday. That race pretty much stayed as what we expected. The numbers did not change that much at all. So the governor's race, that count is over, and we can safely say that Ron DeSantis will be the next governor of Florida.

But at the Senate race, it's still hangs in the ballots. The numbers have really not changed all that much since the initial count. And so if Bill Nelson has any hope of overcoming Rick Scott in this race, they're going to have to really need some sort of a miracle during this hand recount.

COOPER: And how is it possible that Broward County missed the deadline by two minutes?

NOBLES: It's really a head scratching, Anderson. And nobody really has a good explanation for exactly what happened. And I do think that for the people of Florida, this is pretty disappointing. It wasn't just Broward County, it was also Palm Beach County that did not make the deadline in time and also Hillsboro County was also unable to make it through the machine recount.

And essentially what this means is that they're going to revert back to the initial numbers from the first count that ended last Sunday. So it's not as if those votes aren't going to count, but they just did not get that exhaustive second run through the machines just to make sure all those numbers matched up.

[20:40:00] Again, we actually know those numbers from Broward County. They didn't really change all that much, in fact, they were better for Rick Scott when you actually look at the data. But it's really just more about the process and making sure that each one of these voters has their voice completely heard, according to the rules, and that just didn't happen here in Florida this time around.

COOPER: All right, Ryan Nobles, appreciate it. With me now is CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin and David Boies, who was lead counsel for Al Gore in the legal battle over the 2000 presidential election.

David, you obviously know more than just about anyone when it comes to Florida recount. So besides maybe some unwanted flashbacks you may be going through, what goes through your mind when you look at what's happening there over the last several days?

DAVID BOIES, ATTORNEY FOR GORE IN 2000 ELECTION: I think a couple of things. One thing that goes to my mind is that things have actually gotten better. We don't have hanging chads. We don't have disputes about whether something ought to be counted because it was dimpled or not dimpled or you don't have the sunlight test holding up the micro -- you know, the magnifying glass.

You now have optical character recognition ballots that are something that you can look at and determine the voter intent in a manual recount. So one thing, it's gotten better. The second thing is that this is not nearly as close as 2000.

COOPER: Right.

BOIES: As opposed to trying to make up 400, 500 votes, they're talking about making up more than 10,000 votes. And to do that, you're going to have to find something happened with those machines in terms of not counting all the votes. Now, you'll figure that out with a manual recount. But I think the chances that this vote changes is much less than it was in 2000.

COOPER: Jeff, you made that point, as well. And certainly the -- what we've seen now in the governor's race in Florida backs up what David is saying that -- I mean, it was a minuscule -- I think it was -- I mean, just a handful of votes difference. What do you make, though, Jeff, of the fact that Broward County and others missed the deadline by two minutes.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, two things. One is the Florida electoral system is still awful and run by incompetent people with inferior machines. It also has laws that are way too strict. I mean, there is absolutely no reason why two minutes should make a difference in whether a more accurate count is reported. So, I mean, there remain problems in the Florida electoral system.

But as David said, the system is better than it was 18 years ago. I mean, the punch card system is far worse than the optical scan system that's in place now, but it's still no bargain with what they have.

COOPER: David, do you have recommendations for changes that could be made to make it even better?

BOIES: Well, I think for one thing, I think Jeffrey is entirely right. The deadlines are too strict. Some of these counts just can't get done in that time available. I think the second thing is they've got to have working machines. Palm Beach County doesn't have working machines.

I actually think that that if you take the Supreme Court decision of Bush v. Gore seriously, that presents an equal protection argument, because one of the things the court said is that you can't have people in one county not having as good a chance of having their votes counted as people in other counties and that's exactly what happens when you have defective machines in one of the counties like you do in Palm Beach.

So I think two things. One is give them realistic amount of time. And second, make sure the machines are working. The optical scanning ballot system is a good ballot system, but the machines have got to work. And I think that's easily correctible with a trivial amount of money.

COOPER: Jeff -- go ahead.

TOOBIN: Well, if I could just reiterate another -- a point David made earlier. I mean, the Bush/Gore recount in Florida was a matter of ultimately a little more than 500 votes. The margin here going into the manual recount is more than 12,000 votes. You know, that's a close election from a political perspective, but it is not a close election as recounts go.

I mean, the odds that Nelson can make up this in a manual recount strike me as close to zero. I mean, that is, you know, a lot of votes for a recount and I don't think anyone should be under the impression that this election is on the verge of being overturned.

COOPER: That's an important point, David.

BOIES: I think that's right.

COOPER: You said that unless there's a massive problem with the machines that making up this kind of a deficit is nearly impossible.

BOIES: I think that's right. That doesn't mean we shouldn't do it, though. I mean, everybody who is ahead always tries to end the game. I mean, people who are ahead at the end in the eighth-inning of a baseball game try to make it an eighth-inning baseball game. This is a situation in which the Florida law is absolutely clear, you've got a manual recount if you're within a certain margin.

[20:45:06] Clearly, we're within that margin. Nobody disputes that. And people ought to let the process work out. Not try to change the rules in the middle of the game. I think the chances that it's going to change are very, very small. I think Jeffrey is 100 percent right about that. The people ought to let the process play out and not try to truncate it.

COOPER: All right, David Boies, Jeff Toobin, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

One more piece of election news to bring you. A call-in, Maine's second congressional district Democratic challenger Jared Golden defeating the Republican incumbent. With that, that brings the number of Democrat pickups to 33 seats. Seven races, all of them close, remains to be called by CNN so stay tuned.

Up next, President Trump facing heat for skipping one Veterans Day event overseas and not holding one here on U.S. soil. He visits U.S. marines today. I'll talk it over with Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war vet.


COOPER: Well, as you know, the President has been facing criticism for not holding a Veteran's Day event on Monday and for skipping a visit to an American cemetery in France over the weekend to commemorate the end of World War I.

[20:50:03] Today with that as a back drop, he went to a pair of military events. This afternoon he attended the White House Veteran's Conference and the First Lady also visited the Marine Barracks in Washington. The Barracks supports both ceremonial and security missions in the nation's capital.

Earlier I spoke about this more with Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth and Army National Guard Veteran who lost both her legs when her helicopter was shot down in the Iraq war.


COOPER: Senator, I'm wondering what you make of the President's visit to the Marine Barracks given that he had no public events honoring veterans on Veterans Day and skip that World War I remembrance in France on Saturday. Do you think this was sort of in response to the criticism he received?

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: Well, I think it's 100 percent in him trying to make up for the fact that he couldn't be bothered to stand in the rain to honor our heroic dead on Veterans Day, that he's had a terrible week, and he is trying to take credit for things that he's not done and to cover the fact that he's had a miserable week and he's not been there for veterans.

COOPER: He obviously, you know, often touts the strength of the U.S. military, his commitment to troops. Does it concern you that he has yet to visit troops in any active combat zone? Is that hard to square with what he says about his support for the military?

DUCKWORTH: Well, there's a lot of things that he says that doesn't square with what he says he does to support the military. And exactly, if he truly cared about the troops, he would go visit them in a combat zone. He would go to the cemetery whether it was raining or snowing to honor our heroic dead.

He certainly wouldn't send 5,000 troops to Texas to defend against a caravan that is on its way to Tijuana, you know. And then, look, we still have 85,000 veterans who have not yet gotten their payments for their housing allotments while they're going back to school in the GI bill. He's failed miserably when it comes to supporting our troops and their families. COOPER: Talking about the troops being sent to the border, Secretary of Defense Mattis said yesterday, when talking to the troops being sent to the southern border and the role that they'd be playing talking about them he said that they'll be there as "confidence builders." Certainly the U.S. military has a lot of priorities. Is confidence building one of them?

DUCKWORTH: No. If anything, those 5,000 troops being sent to the Texas border when the caravan 1,000 miles away is headed towards California and they're being sent to the border over Thanksgiving and potentially over Christmas is, if anything, it's going to bring down the troops moral. It does nothing.

And he did this as a political statement, and it doesn't help our troops, it doesn't help readiness. If he truly wants to support our troops, then he should pay more attention to making sure that we actually have a strategy for North Korea, that he provides these funding to support our veterans, those are going back to school in a GI bill for homeless veterans. That he fills the 40,000 vacancies that exist within the VA right now, and programs that have everything to do with homelessness to mental health.

COOPER: I want to ask you about something that you posted on Twitter that I saw on November 12th. You said you were celebrating your "alive day." Can you just explain what that is and why you call it that?

DUCKWORTH: Well, my alive day is the anniversary of the shoot down, the day that I was wounded. It could either be a day of great sadness looking back at my injuries or it could be a day of really celebration and thanks. And I give thanks on that day. I choose it to be my second birthday to thank the men who saved me. They are my moral compass.

I live every day and every decision I make is to make sure that they're never embarrassed or ashamed for the work that I'm doing now in the Senate. And to live up to the sacrifices that they made. You know, it's a real time to really think back on what are we doing here, what can we do to support our troops, what can we do to make sure that our military men and women and their families are well supported.

COOPER: Senator Duckworth, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, let's check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How are you doing down there in D.C., Anderson?

COOPER: I'm good, ready to come home, though.

CUOMO: We miss you. Everyone says hello. So, we're going to be looking at the latest in the elections and what it means. And then, of course, we're going to put a short focus on Florida because, oh, the drama down there, two minutes late, two minutes late and none of the votes will count. Really? We're going to take you through the implications down there.

We're also going to be looking at what took the President by such surprise today that he went nuts about the Mueller probe. And what does this mean about what might come next. We'll be taking those two on in deep fashion.

COOPER: All right. A lot to look at, six minutes. Chris, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the latest on the lawsuit CNN filed against the President and other White House staffers over Jim Acosta's press pass being revoked.


[20:58:42] COOPER: A ruling in CNN's lawsuit against President Trump has been delayed again. Judge Timothy Kelly, who is a Trump appointee, heard the arguments yesterday of the lawsuit over the White House revoking Jim Acosta's press pass. The judge had said he'd make an initial ruling this afternoon, that's now been pushed back again with the next hearing scheduled for tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

Now, there are two issues here. The judge is expected to rule tomorrow on a temporary restraining order to restore Acosta's press pass. Then there's another issue that CNN is asking for permanent relief and a declaration from the judge that revoking his press pass was unconstitutional. Hearings on that are still ahead. Well, of course -- we'll keep you posted for that.

I hope you watched our show "Full Circle" today. We had a lot on the fires in California. I hope you don't miss "Full Circle" every day. It's our daily interactive newscast on Facebook. You get to vote on the stories that we cover. You get big variety of stories, something you won't see on "AC360" at night details. And watch it weeknights at 6:25 p.m. Easter at

So, the new continues. I want to hand it over right now to Chris on "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CUOMO: My, man, thank you very much. I am Chris Cuomo, welcome to "PRIME TIME."

Somebody told the President something that got him really upset about the Mueller probe today. What does he fear coming his way? So much that it made him go on a Twitter tier? Is he signaling that his new acting AG may just quash the investigation altogether? We're going to bring Cuomo's Court in session for that.