Return to Transcripts main page


White House Slams "Baseless" Impeachment Inquiry, Rejects Offer to Defend President Trump at House Hearing; Sources: President Trump Continues to Use Personal Cell Phone Despite Security Warnings; Saudi Military Trainee Kills Three in Florida Naval Base Shooting; Christine Pelosi Talks About Her Mother's Historic Week. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired December 6, 2019 - 20:00   ET




After repeatedly teasing throughout the impeachment inquiry that maybe, possibly, he could consider participating directly in the process, President Trump and his attorneys have done the only thing they and many top officials have ever done in this White House which is, in this case, refuse to cooperate.

The White House was on a 5:00 p.m. deadline imposed by the Judiciary Committee and they met it with another round of rhetorical fireworks. In a statement, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said, quote, you're impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness. He also called the process a charade and a reckless abuse of power.

In response, Democrats were equally incendiary. In a tweet shortly after the White House made its decision to public, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff wrote, quote: The White House said they wanted open hearings, not closed, and then they didn't want those either. Then they said they wanted to participate in proceedings, and now they say they don't. All they really want is to hide the president's serious misconduct. It's not working.

Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee which is now conducting public hearings said this, quote: If the president has no good response to the allegations, then he would not want to appear before the committee. Having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair.

CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins us right now.

So, Jim, the letter saying that the president won't participate in the House impeachment proceedings. I mean, it's not surprising. He said publicly he would like too, but that's obviously what he said about testifying in front of Mueller and that obviously never happened either.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Anderson. I mean, this is the least surprising news from all week. We saw this train coming a long time ago. But one thing I will tell you, Anderson, is that one thing that is not stated in this letter, and we have it right here, it does not specifically state that the White House is not going to participate in these proceedings. So, one of the questions remains this evening whether or not they are trying to reserve that right to enter this process down the road.

I did talk to a senior administration official earlier this evening who said, yes, it doesn't state that but the letter communicates we don't plan to participate in these proceedings, if that makes a lot of sense, if that flows for you.

But one thing I should also say that is at the end of this letter, it says -- it quotes the president's tweet from yesterday when he said, listen, if we're going to do this, if you're going to impeachment me, do it now, do it fast. That appears where things are headed up on Capitol Hill. The House is moving rapidly in that direction.

The one bit of this that should be pointed out and I think you just mentioned this a few moments ago is that the White House has been insisting all along that this impeachment process has been a sham and unfair and so on because they haven't been involved in any of the proceedings when they were behind closed doors or even when they were in front of the cameras. And when Jerry Nadler, the Judiciary Committee chairman, gave them that opportunity, now the White House is essentially showing their card and saying they just don't want to be in this process at all until it gets to the Senate.

COOPER: But if and when this goes to the Senate, the question of cooperation is entirely different.

ACOSTA: That's right. As you know, the Republicans are in charge. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can essentially set a lot of these rules. Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, will be handling the president's legal representation in a Senate trial, and conceivably, Anderson, they can call a whole host of witnesses. They can try to call Hunter Biden in to testify. They could try to bring the whistle-blower out of the wood work and compel that person to testify.

But there is a debate going on inside the administration, inside the president's legal team and to whether or not that's a wise idea. Once this gets out of the House and the conventional wisdom here in Washington is all of this is a fait accompli when it gets to Senate and the president will be acquitted because he has the Republican senators on his side.

But, Anderson, once it gets to a Senate trial phase, there's no guarantee we won't see surprises as we have seen all along throughout this process. And that is why the White House is tempting to say you know what, let's get this over quickly in the Senate as well.

COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, Jim, thanks very much from the White House tonight.

Here to discuss, former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, a CNN contributor; Scott Jennings, a former advisor to President George W. Bush and a CNN political commentator; and David Gergen, an advisor to four presidents and a CNN senior political analyst.

David, I mean, does the White House not participate in the House impeachment inquiry undermine the president's case at all? Because I mean, you know, Nadler says he can't argue, it's unfair. He certainly will continue to as many Republicans will argue it's unfair.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it certainly undercuts the argument that they're not being allowed to participate. They have been arguing that was unfair. They didn't have a voice. And behind closed doors, of course, during the depositions, they did have equal time in terms of asking questions of the witnesses.

There have been aspects that the Democrats have control. But I'm not -- I guess I'm not surprised but I'm disappointed that Republicans, the White House is not taking part in this. This is so unlike any other impeachment we have seen in -- certainly with Nixon and Clinton where both presidents were much more cooperative, sent witnesses, sent documents, you know, and made their case.


And here -- I think the Trump White House is simply not taking the Constitution seriously. They are acting like this is a circus. It's just all politics when, in fact, at the heart of this there's a very serious question about our democratic system and the threats to democracy that this represents.

COOPER: Scott, should the White House have cooperated?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think as a strategic matter they didn't want to do anything that would be seen as legitimatizing this. David said a minute ago they have treated it like a circus and that's because that's how they view it. Now, that may not be a legitimate position to some people, but that's how the White House views and that's how they want their people to look at it. So to legitimatize it wouldn't be in their interest.

When they get over the Senate, the president's lawyers --

COOPER: Do you think it's legitimate?

JENNINGS: -- as was alluded to -- as was alluded to in the reporting, they could pull up some witnesses there if they so choose. So, there would be some participation on that end.

I also think the people at the White House think any participation at this point wouldn't matter. It wouldn't matter what they come into the House with because the House has already decided what it's going to do.

I don't think it really hurts them not to participate at this point and didn't expect them to in the first place.

COOPER: John, among their supporters it doesn't really hurt them because it seems like the supporters will go along with, you know, whatever the president is -- whatever that position is. If the president had exculpatory information, John, that could head off his impeachment either in the form of documents or witnesses, I mean, this would be the time to make them available and he's not doing that.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's very true. They have offered really no hard defense. They've really just trapped the process if the outset. They have not treated it with any respect. It's very curious actually. All the precedents show that presidents get right in and offer information.

Nixon certainly did. Not all of it was truthful. But he certainly offered information.

As did Clinton -- Clinton put on a pretty good case. His lawyers were there all along.

One of the other things, they have no choice in the Senate. They would default if they didn't have some lawyer representing them in the Senate. So, they have no choice there.

But in the house, they have a chance to actually make a case if they had a case.

COOPER: David, does it then -- if they have no choice in the Senate, the rules remain to be seen if terms of how things are operated in the Senate but the president's allies would in theory be able to call their own witnesses without getting denied and they're not looking just for an acquittal, they are looking to turn this on Democrats and make it about them.

GERGEN: If the Biden are subpoenaed and I would refuse to go. Go to court with it. I think we would all be better off going back to the rules that pertain to the Nixon days. When you've had witness who is are called and subpoenaed as John Dean will tell you, if you refuse the subpoena you could get tossed in jail.

I think there's some -- this process is degenerated so much during this Trump period that we may well be advised be to go back to something like that, because I -- whatever the Republicans do now that tears down the process, gets rid of the norms and traditions, the Democrats are gong to start doing that too and just go cite the Republicans. You know, the way the Republicans conducted Benghazi had a big effect in the way the Democrats then handle this impeachment inquiry.

COOPER: Scott, I mean, you've worked closely with Majority Leader McConnell over the years. If the president wants a no holds bar TV fight in the Senate, is that something McConnell would deliver? How do you see this playing out in the Senate?

JENNINGS: Yes, I can give you my sense of what the Senate leadership is in its best interest. Number one, I think a lot of senators think it would be better to get this over with in a reasonable period of time and not drag it out which would mean not calling all kinds of witnesses. Now, the president and the White House have said otherwise so far

publicly. But I do think that as the process goes along in the Senate, you know, you could have house impeachment managers go for a few days, the president's lawyers go. I could see a scenario at the end of the presentations by both sides, you know, if the Senate leadership whip the Senate and found 51 votes to proceed meaning to go ahead and go to final jeopardy, then they would just end the trial and go ahead and have a vote and it would be over.

That would, of course, mean you had 51 votes to proceed. So, I could see a scenario where some people would continue to say they would want to have a long trial and call witnesses.


But if at some point after both presentations, if 51 votes exist to go to final jeopardy, they might just do it. And, you know, that could take as few as ten days, it might take a few more. But in a best case, short term scenario, I think you could get it done under two weeks. Now, that may not make his allies happy, but of course, he'd get an acquittal, which is exactly what he wants.

COOPER: I love the jeopardy reference, Scott.



GERGEN: Yes, just one brief thing. I wouldn't be surprised for Donald -- if Donald Trump decides he wants to go appear in the Senate side and come up and make a statement on his behalf and not take questions and walk out. He loves that kind of theater. And then he can claim at the end, well, I made a statement, I explain what it was and they voted to acquit.

COOPER: We'll leave it there. David Gergen, John Dean, Scott Jennings, thanks very much. A lot to look forward to.


COOPER: A lot to watch in the coming days and weeks.

Still to come tonight, Rudy Giuliani's latest whereabouts and a new report on how few people in the president's inner circle know what his attorney Rudy Giuliani is doing and where he's going.

We'll have a live report on the deadly shooting also at the Florida Navy base and the latest and the growing mystery surrounding the shooter, a Saudi national.



COOPER: We have more breaking news in the White House. Multiple officials tell CNN tonight that President Trump continues to use his personal cell phone to make calls, despite warnings from staff that this could leave him vulnerable to foreign surveillance. Officials say it's highly likely the president's phone call from Gordon Sondland from a restaurant in Ukraine over the summer was picked up. That's the one or I should say, the phone call with Gordon Sondland. Gordon Sondland made the call.

Sondland told the president the leader of Ukraine, quote, loves your ass. This means that foreign surveillance could have picked up any calls between the president and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, whose call logs were subpoenaed by Congress.

Now, speaking of Rudy Giuliani, his current whereabouts are something of a mystery after a surprise tour of Eastern European capitals where the president met with foreign officials trying to dig up dirt on the Bidens. All he would tell CNN is he's no longer in Ukraine. The trip caught a lot of people off guard, including apparently senior officials at the White House, according to a new report in "The Daily Beast".

Erin Banco who shares the byline of the story joins me right now.

Erin, you're reporting that Giuliani trip to -- that has startled some senior administration officials. What have you learned? What are the details on that?

ERIN BANCO, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, "THE DAILY BEAST": So, we started looking at the story a couple of days ago and we started pinging people in the Trump administration, senior officials in both the State Department and National Security Council, and what we found out is these officials didn't really know what was going on. You know, they were sort of aware that Rudy Giuliani had been to Budapest but unaware that he was planning on going to Kiev.

So, there were a lot of meetings and discussions about what exactly Rudy was up to. Now, the concern was not only that he was meeting with individuals who had in the past peddled disinformation on Biden and Burisma but also individuals who peddled the sort of conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine that meddled in the 2016 presidential election, not Russia.

And as we know from Dr. Hill's testimony several weeks ago, that was the main concern for her too at the National Security Council. And I believe she even said to House impeachment investigators that, you know, this idea was Russia conspiracy theory, that it had been Ukraine that meddled in the election. So, that's the real concern for national security officials today.

COOPER: And have they been in touch with Giuliani or tracking his movements? Do we know?

BANCO: So, we do know that they've been tracking his movements. We do not know that he's been in touch with Mr. Giuliani. I don't think Giuliani is transmitting back to Washington, to the State Department, or the National Security Council about what exactly he's up to. But we do know White House aides are increasingly nervous about his

interactions and we also know that American individuals have counseled Ukrainian officials close to President Zelensky not to meet with Rudy Giuliani while he's in Kiev. And so, this is just sort of concern, you know, in the White House and the National Security Council about exactly what he's up to.

COOPER: And what has Giuliani said about this? I mean, he told CNN he's no longer in Kiev.

BANCO: So, I believe that's a recent development. As of earlier today, we understood he was still there. Giuliani says he's doing what he has been doing for the past year and a half, which is representing his client, President Trump.

Now, the real concern, I think, in the context of this is that what we know about Giuliani is he often travels internationally to try to score business deals, right? And so, the conflation between him trying to score business deals and also representing President Trump is where the concern comes into play in the top echelons of the Trump administration, with the White House aides, with the National Security Council, and that's a very fine line. And I think that's a real point of concern as well.

COOPER: Erin Banco, appreciate it. Thanks very much for the reporting.

Here now, Republican strategist Rick Wilson is joining us. He's the author of the book, "Everything Trump Touches Dies".

Rick, thanks for being with us.

So, what do you make of Giuliani -- what is he doing here? I mean, has he just been -- is he trying to get attention? Is -- is this good for the president?

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that -- I think one thing Rudy is doing is deeply undermining the president's defense that nothing is -- that nothing he did was wrong and this was all a standard sort of governmental operating procedure. I think that undermines -- this new trip undermines that defense rather dramatically.

But what I think Rudy is doing is doubling down. I mean, these guys have become reckless gamblers in this thing, thinking that they're going to get some moment that's going to allow the media culture around the president's side of the equation to blow up Hunter Biden and to blow up Joe Biden.


I mean, it's really validating Joe Biden's role as the guy who Donald Trump fears the most. And he is certainly doing -- Rudy is doing everything he can right now both to sort of revive that story, which has been fairly thoroughly debunked at this point, and to keep that line of attack on Joe Biden alive. COOPER: And, also, for Giuliani to sort of continue to say that this

is a -- this is all a mission about corruption in Ukraine, again, there are so many levers the U.S. government that have already been involved with anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine or could be involved.

WILSON: Sure. The Treasury Department could be looking at it, that the idea that it's Rudy Giuliani who has any role whatsoever is sort of -- just defies logic.

COOPER: The State Department, the Department of Defense have both certified that the Ukraine made meaningful progress or cleaning up corruption, the end of the regime that we still moved even further toward cleaning up corruption. And that this is -- is a very, very -- very itty bitty fig leaf to pretend that there's a real reason for them to do this.

Strangely enough, the only corruption they want to look at is something related to the one guy that Donald Trump fears the most in the general election. That strikes me as less than a coincidence at this point.

COOPER: Yes. Again, if everyone seems to acknowledge there's a huge corruption problem in Ukraine as there is in many places in former Soviet Union territories in Eastern Europe. The fact that he's reportedly alarming senior administration officials who are sort of trying to track him or having him tracked, you would think he wouldn't be doing -- he wouldn't be doing any of this without the president signing off on it, I would imagine.

WILSON: Well, you know, Anderson, there's some reporting tonight that White House staffers don't know whether or not Rudy has any sanction for the president on this or not, and the president won't answer the question, obviously.

But, you know, this again puts Donald Trump in a very tight position. If Rudy is his personal attorney handling this with his agreement and sanction and encouragement that gives Donald Trump a huge amount of exposure on this question that he doesn't want. If he's not and he's just freelancing, then he is still claiming to be Trump's personal attorney, still -- I mean, either way Trump is in a bad situation on this because this does not look like the kind of thing that meaningfully reduces the degree to which Donald Trump looks as if he's trying to exploit the relationship of his personal attorney with him to pressure to Ukrainians to do something to government would be doing if it was a governmental mission.

COOPER: Yes. Rick Wilson, I appreciate you being with us. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Just ahead tonight, the latest on shooting at an air base in Florida and the mystery surrounding the Saudi national who killed three people there.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Mass shooting at a U.S. Navy base this morning, leaving three dead and eight injured has turned into a global investigation led by the FBI. At the heart of the tragedy is a mystery about the shooter and fears of a link to terrorism. Tonight, we have the latest about the Saudi national who opened fire, his possible motives for doing so and how he was able to bring a handgun into a military insulation in Florida.

I want to go to CNN's Barbara Starr who's at the Pentagon for us -- Barbara.


The FBI trying to get answers to all of those questions. It was early this morning when Mohammed al-Shamrani, a member of the Saudi royal air force, walked into a classroom at Pensacola Naval Air Force Station in Florida, in the panhandle, where he was in his second year of a three-year training course. He had a handgun and he opened fire as you say.

Eventually, two sheriff deputies were called in and he was shot and killed by one of the deputies. Right now, no known motive. Investigators are looking at all of that.

This training program, you know, there's about 5,000 foreign military students that come to the U.S. to train. About 800 of them right now are Saudis, and most obviously serve honorably, of course.

It is considered vital by the U.S. military. They want to train them. They want them to go home to their home countries and have good military skills. Many of them rise to senior ranks in their own military, is valuable if the U.S. military has to operate overseas with them, that they have the same type of training, for example, that U.S. pilots get.

But what happened here right now, still a mystery. Still the FBI and the U.S. Navy trying to figure out how it happened. The Saudi government is pledging its cooperation.

COOPER: And, clearly, you know, it's being investigated to see if it is terror-related. If this was, you know, beyond a workplace issue or school issue and something larger terrorism.

STARR: That's right. I mean, there are people on social media with that name. So, obviously, investigators trying to confirm if there are any social media postings that he may have made. Who he may have been in communication with? Did anybody see any evidence that perhaps he was being radicalized? Did his behavior change? Any conversations he might have had with people? What were his ties?


Now, the thing that might be really important to remember when these foreign students come here they go through a security review before they're allowed in. So there's going to be a lot of questions. Could he potentially have been radicalized once he got here, Anderson?

COOPER: Barbara Starr, Barbara thanks very much.

STARR: Sure.

COOPER: I want to bring in former Pentagon spokesman and also CNN Military and Diplomatic Analyst, Retired Admiral John Kirby, and CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen. Admiral Kirby once served at the base in Pensacola and Peter's recently returned from Saudi Arabia where he spoke with members of the military.

Admiral Kirby, so you were stationed at that naval air station five years when you did public affairs for the Blue Angels. I know you consider Pensacola bit of a second home. Can you describe the, you know, what life is like at the facility, the sizes of it -- the size of it and how something like this could happen? You know, are guards armed? You know, deputies were called in, I assume.


COOPER: There's not a lot of military personnel with weapons.

KIRBY: It's one of our largest naval bases in the country. It's primarily designed to help train aviation people in the navy either aviators or maintenance and air crew. So it's a naval aviation training facility. There's about 20,000 or so people on the base. And of course, families live on the base.

I lived on the base with my two kids when we were down there in the mid-'90s. So it's a very family friendly environment on base and a very family friendly, navy friendly community in Pensacola. They love the navy there. The base has been active since, you know, about 1913, so there' a long history with the local committee.

As for security on the base, because it is big, they have a fairly sizable security force on base. It's a mixture of civilian employees as well as military masters at arms. They are armed when they need to be for the jobs they are doing, but they are not all armed all the time.

And arms, small arms are not floating around the base the way that they would, and floating is probably a bad verb, but they're not as prevalent of the basis would be say on an army infantry base where soldiers are expected to be issued and maintain their own personal weapon. These are aviation students. These are pilots and they're not going to be carrying arms on a daily basis.

The base [INAUDIBLE] today said that having a personal firearm is against the regulations. You're not allowed to come on base with of those. So they do have policies in place to try to limit that.

COOPER: And Peter, at this point, what stands out to you in this?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know, it's hard to get on a military base unless you have a military ID or bona fide appointment. And what's interest if you look back at the last 10 years of attacks, lethal attacks, some terrorist, some sort of workplace violence in the United States, they've all been essentially insiders.

Fort Hood, Texas, an army major killed 13 people in 2009. An army soldier killed group of people in 2014. Here in Washington at the U.S. Navy, we had an insider, a military contractor kill a large number in 2013. Then we have the Pearl Harbor incident by an American sailor, and now we have this. So, you know, that is interesting to me.

The other thing that's interesting, Anderson, is that, you know, we're sending quite a large number of troops, American troops back to Saudi Arabia having for a long time not had American troops, several thousand potentially going perhaps even more because of heightening tensions with Iran.

And so you have to also ask yourself the question, you know, how well protected will those American troops will be, after all, westerners and indeed American soldiers have been the target of terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia in the past. And so, I would also be concerned about that.

COOPER: Also, I mean, Peter, you know, Saudi -- there's obviously a history of, you know, terrorist who struck the United States who are either from Saudi Arabia or, you know, Osama bin Laden if I remember correctly was, you know, one of his early things he was railing against was the president of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia.

BERGEN: Yes, of course, we don't know the motivation but there is a reason that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, because Saudis can visit the United States a lot more easily than other countries like, let's say Yemen or other countries in the Middle East. And of course, what's interesting, the so-called travel ban was targeted at a variety of countries but not the Saudis. So if indeed this turns out to be the motivation of terrorism, I think there's going to be some questions about that issue. But, you know, it's still too early to tell.

One thing is this guy had a fair amount of time to kind of think about how to smuggle a weapon on to this campus. He was there for, you know, a little under two years. And so he would have -- every day had to go through security and what if I think been able to think about how to conceal a weapon to get on to this facility.

COOPER: And Admiral Kirby, I mean, it was a training program that was funded by the Saudis. It would took an accordance with U.S. of, you know, foreign military sales case. What is it -- what is the vetting look like for participants?

KIRBY: So at first, when the Saudis would nominate an individual to participate in this program, they would go through our State Department, the consular office in that country, in this case Saudi Arabia would do a normal screening for them, a vetting procedure just like they would for issuing work visas for anybody else. So there's an initial screening there.


And then the Department of Defense also does yet another vetting and screening of these individuals as they, you know, are going through the selection and approval process. So, there's sort of two levels there. And of course, you know, we're -- you know, in order to be in this program, you have to have the necessary clearances to operate some of this equipment to understand it, so there's a classification issue as well.

It's extensive, but I would not think for a moment that they're going to take another look here at this vetting procedure in this case and see if there was anything that was either dropped in the process, either was performed properly and yet we missed something or whether there's an actual systemic issue in the process now going forward.

COOPER: Yes. Admiral Kirby, appreciate it, Peter Bergen as well. Good to have you on the program.

Just ahead, facing off with the President and a reporter has been quite a week for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Her daughter, Christine, joins me next, why she says don't mess with mama.



COOPER: For House Speaker Nancy Pelosi it's been a historic week. She ordered her committee chairs in the House to proceed without delay in their impeachment investigations and had a memorable exchange with a reporter. In a moment, I'm going to talk with someone who certainly knows her very well. But first, here is what happened when that reporter asked her this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you hate the President, Madam Speaker? Because Representative Collins --

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I don't hate anybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- Representative Collins --

PELOSI: I was raised in a Catholic house. We don't hate anybody, not anybody in the world. So don't you accuse me of any --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not accuse you.

PELOSI: You did. You did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked you a question. Representative Collins yesterday suggested that the Democrats are doing this simply because they don't like the guy.

PELOSI: It has nothing to do with -- let me just say this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's an important point. PELOSI: I think the President is a coward when it comes to helping our kids who are afraid of gun violence. I think he is cruel when he doesn't deal with helping our Dreamers, of which we are very proud. I think he's in denial about the climate crisis. However, that's about the election. This is about the -- take it up in the election. This is about the constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the President's violation of his oath of office.

And as a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is full -- a heart full of love and always pray for the President. And I still pray for the President. I pray for the President all the time. So don't mess with me when it comes to words like that.


COOPER: That back and forth got certainly a lot of attention, prompted her daughter, Christine Pelosi, to follow up with a message of her own, "Don't mess with mama," she wrote. Christine Pelosi is the author of "The Nancy Pelosi Way: Advice on Success, Leadership and Politics from America's Most Powerful Woman," and she joins me now.

So, Christine, watching your mother's reaction yesterday, stopping short to respond to the reporter, heading back to the microphone to finish her thought, some may have been surprised by it. Were you?

CHRISTINE PELOSI, AUTHOR, "THE NANCY PELOSI WAY": I was not. Anderson, thank you for having me on. I appreciate the opportunity to tell people Nancy Pelosi is such a strong woman of faith. She and my dad, Paul, raised five of us. We were born five kids in six years and one week. Our whole family combined has over 100 years of Catholic school and my mom was a class mom when we were growing up, pressing our Catholic uniforms, making sure we did our homework, making sure we were always prepared for the day.

And she has always been a person of great faith and it's, in fact, her Catholic faith that she takes pride in that always gives her the strength to have pride and respect for other people's faiths. And when people attack her for having San Francisco value, she always points to the prayer of St. Francis, "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace. And so, yesterday's response to that ridiculous premise was exactly Nancy Pelosi.

COOPER: I'm wondering what you have -- you know, obviously your mom has been getting -- you know, she's obviously in the spotlight as she has been for a long time but certainly in a way that she hasn't been in prior administrations. Obviously her role, you know, it is a different time right now. I'm wondering what you make of you what you've seen in terms of your mom's interactions with President Trump.

There's now the famous, you know, photograph of her, which I believe it was the White House initially who put it out, you know, and then she owned it and retweeted it. And it's, you know, also went viral pointing, you know, her finger at the President during a meeting about Syria policy last month. She up at the President during a televised Oval Office meeting late last year, just to name a few. You say that -- you write that she's been underestimated and that people are finally kind of getting a good look at her leadership.

PELOSI: I think that's right. I mean, this is the same mom that we -- you know, that disciplined us in the household and that's been what she calls the weaver of the House where she takes all the different strands of the diverse House Democratic Caucus and some Republican strands too and weaves together politics and policies for the good of the American people.

She is very strong in who she is and last election cycle when there were 137,000 negative ads about her, including some by Democrats, she would just turn and say, just win, baby. And we would be very upset. And she would say, look, its politics. It's always going to be tough. And what can they do? They can't take my kids away from me.

And working as she does so closely with the health care coalition with parents of children who are murdered by people with guns where the children really have been taken away, I think that's given her even more fortitude and purpose to say, I'm not going to let Donald Trump or anybody underestimate me. And I'm not going to stop for one minute from stepping forward in my power to help these other families.


COOPER: Have you seen an evolution of her in terms of her just -- you know, there's a lot of people on the Democratic side who will say, look, she is the most formidable person either to have on your side or against you and she sort of just playing a three dimensional game of chess that a lot of people cannot even sort of imagine. Have you seen an evolution in her or is this the same person who as you said, you know, was ironing your school uniforms?

PELOSI: I think it's both. On the one hand -- my mom is actually a really shy person. I can remember dancing down at Market Street in San Francisco at a parade honoring the fire department and she looked at me and said, you inherited none of my natural shyness. And then she gets up and she does these things on television. I'm like, mom, you realize you're a meme on the internet now. And she really -- she didn't really quite get that at first.

So, I think that Nancy Pelosi is showing the same dedication to the issues, but she's now more fully confident in her power and Donald Trump had certainly seen that, so I hope he takes my advice and doesn't mess with her.

COOPER: Christine Pelosi, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

PELOSI: Thank you.

COOPER: "The Ridiculist" is next. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Let's check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Prime Time" at the top of the hour. Chris? CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How are you, my friend? We are expectant of a presser about the shooting at the naval base. We'll take it live. If so, we have experts and reporters on standby to process it. We're going to look at it a little more deeply tonight than just the headline.

What is the vetting that goes into it? How do you makes the risk assessment about whom you let in and who you don't and do we treat the Saudis different than we do at other countries? If so, why? And we're also going to through the new information about Rudy Giuliani. We see him as the nexus of this investigation.

COOPER: All right, Chris, we'll see you in just couple minutes. I look forward to that. Coming up, unhappy with your water pressure? Mad about your toilet? Well, President Trump knows how you feel. "The Ridiculist" is next.



COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." And tonight, it is less than three weeks before Christmas and over at the White House, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse that's trying to obstruct Congress.

But earlier today, there was quite a lot of stirring and talk of flushing and it happen squat down in the middle of a small business round table. And President Trump started promising to get to the bottom of something that, well, kind of stinks.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a situation where we're looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where you turn the faucets on and areas where there's tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to see because you could never handle it. And you don't get any water.

You turn on the faucet. You don't get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping out. It's dripping out, very quietly dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as supposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly at my suggestion.


COPPER: People are flushing toilets 10 to 15 times? Now, in the past when the President talks about people, it's either one of two things. Number one, it's imaginary people, like the millions of people that only he know about who voted for Hillary Clinton multiple times, illegally, even wearing different hats.

Or at number two, its people as in people are talking about it, which he says a lot, which means really he's talking about it. This mess, smells like a number one and a number two. It's big. I mean, I don't want to get into it but it sounds like less of a water pressure issue, more of like a hazmat situation.

President Trump is actually not the only one who's apparently having some porcelain problem. Senator Rand Paul is as well. In fact, maybe this is why the President and Rand Paul become such allies. Here's Senator Paul Back in 2011 addressing an Energy Department official from the Obama administration.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Frankly, my toilets don't work in my house and I blame you and people like you who want to tell me what I can install in my house, what I can do. You restrict my choices.


COOPER: It restricts his choices. You know, with all due respect Senator Paul, your choices such as they are -- I mean, they should be obvious unless I'm missing something, sort of a binary. Later in that same hearing, Senator Paul scolded the energy official again, which precipitate the arguably the best response probably in the history of Senate hearings.


PAUL: I can buy a toilet that works.



COOPER: Will somebody please help Rand Paul find a toilet that works. Good grief. Oh, and I can help you find a toilet that works. Rand Paul's other complaint, energy saving light bulbs and you know who else was on a tear about that as well today.


TRUMP: They got rid of the light bulb that people got used to. The new bulb is many times more expensive. And I hate to say it, it doesn't make you look as good, of course, being a vain person, that's very important to me. It gives you an orange look. I don't want an orange look. Have says anyone noticed that? So, we'll have to change those bulbs in at least a couple of rooms where I am in the White House.


COOPER: All right. So, first of all, I give props to the President for saying to the he's vain. It's self-aware, self-deprecating. It's, you know, it's charming. It is not something we often see the President being self-deprecating. I like that. I think it reflects well on him.

As for the light bulbs are the reason he, you know, sort of has an orange glow. I mean, look, I wouldn't ordinarily even bring this up, comment about, you know, somebody's glow but he did and he blamed the light bulbs. And he's blamed the light bulbs before and I don't want to be rude, but I don't think it's the orange -- I don't think he looks orange because of the light bulbs.

I mean, look, see the line? It's a make-up or it's a tanning lotion or it's a spray or something. Whatever is going on there -- I mean, if you look at the President when he's outside, it's clearly -- it's not a light bulb problem. You can see the line around his face where the makeup or the tanner or whatever it is stops. It's a whole system. It's a whole thing.

But, hey, you heard him say his administration is looking into all this, so let's leave it there. Sleep well, America, and know that the President is working hard from his throne room to get the gridlock unclogged on "The Ridiculist."

And that does it for us. The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris in "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?