Return to Transcripts main page


NY Times: Reporting Reveals Mulvaney Deeply Involved In Ukraine Aid Freeze; Washington Post: President Trump's Lawyer Got Involved In Back-Channel Talks With Maduro; Democrats Ramp Up Campaigning, And Attacks, As First Votes Near. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 30, 2019 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening. Chris Cuomo is off tonight.

Topping this late edition of 360, a new window into the heart of the impeachment case against President Trump, The New York Times citing previously undisclosed emails and documents as well as interviews with dozens of current and former administration officials, documents the 84 days that could end a Presidency - 84 days from the President's first question about blocking military aid to Ukraine to the moment it was finally released.

This new account has a lot to say about how it all played out, who the players were, and the concern so many top officials had that this was either against national security interests, politically unwise, or just plain wrong.

Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, is described as being deeply involved in holding up the aid which, as you know, the President was allegedly using to leverage investigations of the Bidens from Ukraine's President.

The Times reporting also shows that the White House Budget Office was seeking legal justification for withholding the money as well as doubts from Budget officials and sharp pushback from the President's national security team, then National Security Advisor, John Bolton for one, as well as the Secretaries of State and Defense.

Bolton, you'll recall, reportedly referred to it all as a drug deal, according to testimony. He's central to The Times report along with three others, all four of whom happen to be the very officials the White House does not want to testify, Mick Mulvaney, Bolton, Robert Blair and Michael Duffy, they are now at the center of the battle over what the Senate impeachment trial might look like.

And for the latest on that, I want to go to our Kaitlan Collins, near Mar-a-Lago, tonight.

So, do we know, Kaitlan, if the President and his team, are they working on a plan for the Senate trial while he's down there in Florida?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, they still have a lot of big decisions to make, sources are saying. And essentially, they are making those decisions while the President is here.

But what's notable is there are people like Jared Kushner, Mick Mulvaney, around the President while he's been down here at his Mar-a- Lago club.

But people like the White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, have been back in Washington, working on this strategy, as they are still trying to nail down who it is exactly that's going to be defending the President, when and if they do have that Senate trial.

And the President has been pushing now those very aggressive Republican House Members on his team.

But there are still questions about who else he could bring in, and that kind of shed some light on the outside influence that's been on the President by the fact that he was golfing with people like Trey Gowdy, who's been advising the President from outside the White House, on impeachment, for the last several weeks.

And the two of them were seen golfing on Sunday together, which could indicate any decisions the President is going to make over the next several days.

COOPER: And I talked to Boris Sanchez in the last hour. He had the name or he raised the name of Alan Dershowitz, who has been on air, coming up with legal - with legal arguments that the President might be able to use.

COLLINS: Yes. Alan Dershowitz is certainly - certainly a name that's been floated by the President. President Trump actually told people privately he wanted to bring him onto the team.

But there have been a lot of people who had cautioned the President against that saying that that is only going to open them up to more scrutiny, potentially from Democrats over allegations that have surfaced around Alan Dershowitz in recent dates.

So, he's getting a lot of advice from different people. And that was indicative today when he was seen golfing with someone else, Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been telling the President he needs to bring on attorneys from the outside, constitutional law experts, in addition to Pat Cipollone, the White House Counsel, saying essentially he's going to need more attorneys than just that guy.

COOPER: Interesting! Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much. Appreciate it.


Again, in The Times reporting, what really stands out is the fact that the main characters on the page are the very same ones the White House didn't want talking to the House under test - under oath that do not want testify - them testifying at the Senate trial either.

I spoke about it just before airtime with Congressman Steve Cohen, a Democratic Member of the House Judiciary Committee.


COOPER: Congressman, how much of the details in The New York Times increase the need for Mulvaney, for Bolton, Blair, Duffy, to testify in front of the Senate because their names are all over this?

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): To any objective, logical-thinking, person, you'd say it increased to the lot.

But McConnell is a political animal, and he's just trying to figure out how to save the President, and thereby save himself because he's really running low in the polls in Kentucky, and he needs Trump's support. And, of course, Trump has his wife hired as Secretary of Transportation.

So, it's - it's - certainly it - it says that you should have this testimony. The public's going to demand the testimony and witnesses. But it - it puts the Republicans in a difficult position because if the truth comes out, there's nothing anybody can really say, except this was a crime.

It was an impeachable act. It was a disavowing and disobeying his oath of Office. It was trying to get a foreign power to interfere in our elections and - and sacrifice our national security, and is everything that - that we've been saying in our impeachment hearings, and why we voted to impeach.

The case is clear. And the Republicans have really gone to their second level, their last line of defense, which is "But they got the aid."

So, they're basically saying, "Yes, but they got the aid" means, yes we - he did wrong, and he was doing wrong, but at the last minute, he went ahead and - and - and gave in.

COOPER: The thing about that--

S. COHEN: And they can still - probably still do that.

COOPER: Yes. The thing about that argument, the "They got the aid" argument, which I just - it seems intellectually dishonest to me, in that they got the aid because the whistleblower came forward, and this blew up. I mean that's - that's what, you know--

S. COHEN: Yes.

COOPER: --that's why the aid ended up--

S. COHEN: Of course.

COOPER: --flowing when it did. S. COHEN: Yes. And that's of course true. But that's a logical thinking person who's looking at this objectively and trying to think about what's right and wrong.

McConnell's not doing that. You can't do that when your client and basically Trump who is the - on trial is the client of - of the juror, McConnell, you know he's guilty, so when you - you got a guilt.

Just like heck, you know, I'm - I'm a lawyer, and I understand everybody has a right to defense.

So, yes, the - the - you say self-defense, that was the - that's what you're going to say, it was self-defense, and the defense attorney's going to tell the - the - the people to say that. But, you know, you're good - your client's guilty.

COOPER: According to The Times, after President Trump first asked to put a hold on the aid, a White House aide, Robert Blair, replied via email to Mick Mulvaney, writing, "Expect Congress to become unhinged," it certainly seems like an understatement, given how this has turned out. I mean it was a - it was a very accurate warning.

S. COHEN: Well it was an accurate warning. And we didn't become unhinged.

But what we did was, the Democrats at least, is we did our duty, given to us in Article One, to look out for the Constitution and to take the sole responsibility of impeachment, and to utilize it to keep a President who was a rogue President, operating outside of the - the Constitutional norms and - and to put him in check, and that's what we did.

Now, the Republicans went unhinged because they - they, again, they didn't have a real defense.

All they could do was talk in high-pitched voices, and loud, and - and - and take their coats off, and talk about the fact that the aid was released, or come up with a bunch of other hooey about the Bidens, and - and then what Hunter did in a car in Florida at some time, obfuscation, deflection, they can't defend him. He's guilty.

COOPER: When it comes to the articles of impeachment, which haven't yet been sent over to the Senate, how long do you think is too long for Speaker Pelosi to hold them, or is it possible to just never send them over at all, and just not have it go to the Senate?

S. COHEN: Well, my friend, Don Schlitz, wrote a song called The Gambler. And Nancy Pelosi would be a great card player because she knows when to hold them and when to fold them. And I'm not going to suggest to her when to do it because she's the best.

COOPER: Congressman Cohen, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

S. COHEN: You're welcome, Anderson. Have a great New Year.

COOPER: All right, you take care. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: No Democrat wants to mess with Nancy Pelosi!

For more now on all this from our legal and political team, CNN Legal Analyst, Carrie Cordero, Republican Strategist, Alice Stewart, and Democratic Strategist, Paul Begala.

Paul, have you in all your time in government, including working in the White House, ever seen anything quite like what's detailed in The New York Times' reporting?


PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No. No. It was jaw-dropping. And you think 3 years into this Presidency we'd be used to the - the dysfunction. Set aside whether the policy was right, right? There is a policy process.

We are a superpower. We - we have the largest military, and the largest budget. And it - when you make a decision, you - you bring in all the experts, the generals, the diplomats, the - the - the allies.

Here you have, in The Times reporting, in late August, the Secretary of State, America's Chief Diplomat, the Secretary of Defense, America's Chief Warrior, the National Security Advisor, in charge of coordinating everything from Intelligence to diplomacy to war- fighting, all three unified, sitting down with the President, it seemed like an intervention for - for someone who with an addiction issue.

And they say, "Sir, we have to release this aid," and in a fight between the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the National Security Advisor, versus Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Vladimir Putin, it wasn't even a fight.


BEGALA: They - they - they just got rolled. And that's - that's unprecedented in - in my long experience in Washington.

COOPER: Yes, Alice, I mean the thing - one of the things that jumped out in this New York Times report is this previously undisclosed meeting, you know, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, the National Security Advisor, all advising a President reportedly that something, you know, is the interest of the United States, which is giving the aid to Ukraine, and the President ignoring it.

ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. And this is an excellent report. It has a lot of information.

But Anderson, at the end of the day, there's not a lot of new information. This basically gives some details of what we already knew. This is really palace intrigue as to what really happened here.

And Anderson, I've repeatedly said this phone call and what the President said on this call was inappropriate. But I do not believe it rises to the level of impeachment.

One nugget of information in this article that has really gotten overlooked was what the White House aide, Blair, mentioned is buried down in the story. But it's really important.

When he heard the President request announcement by Ukraine that they would look into the Bidens, he didn't look at that as anything more than the President withholding aid because he has an aversion, he has problems, and he has voiced concerns in the past about foreign aid, and he's also has concern about corruption in Ukraine.

He listened to the President's phone call as the President in an ongoing dialog and ongoing policy that he has about foreign aid. That's exactly how he took it. Clearly, there's much more to it than that.

But someone who actually has a direct knowledge of this, this is - this is a viable actual account of how he heard that, and it's something that - that absolutely does need to be considered.

COOPER: Carrie, the - it's interesting point that - that Alice raises.

The - the counter-argument to it is that really the President has never talked about corruption anywhere in the world, except suddenly now Ukraine, when it - and the - and the only name he brings up is something that would, you know, be about Ukraine involvement, not Russia involvement in the election, and just the person who happens to be his, you know, at the time, thought to be his biggest political opponent.

So it's, you know, it's interesting, I mean, this guy might not have thought it was a problem.

But I'm not sure there really is a track record other than the official policy of the United States government being executed by the then diplomats in the Embassy in Ukraine of fighting corruption. It's not a - a big fight from this President.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: Right. I mean what's missing from the White House's story is a compelling narrative or even a reasonably believable narrative for why the aid was being held up and - and why, for that matter, the meeting with the President of Ukraine wasn't given.

And what we have to look at this new report in the context of is everything else that we know from the actual impeachment hearings from the call that was released, the transcript, the summary of the call, from July 25th.

None of these things are happening in isolation. To - the new report from The New York Times is not in isolation. It all has to be taken together.

And when we look at all of the information, that has been revealed, it certainly looks like there was the aid being withheld in the context, and in the timeline, of when the President was also pressuring the President of Ukraine to conduct and to announce the conduct of investigations into his political opponents.

And a person who seems to maybe know all of that is Mick Mulvaney. And I think the new article does show just how much Mick Mulvaney, the Chief of Staff, knows. And so, it's awfully interesting that he, in particular, is unwilling, and the President is unwilling to allow him to testify in front of Congress.

COOPER: We - we got to take a quick break. We're going to continue this discussion.


Also, turns out Rudy Giuliani has been busier than we knew. I'll tell you about another piece of apparently off-the-books diplomacy or business that he is conducting, and the officially-stated foreign policy he seems to have been contradicting.

Also, we'll have the latest on the anti-Semitic attack outside New York as well as the rise in hate crimes around the country.


COOPER: Just when you thought you knew what Rudy Giuliani was up to, there's new reporting on another previously unknown episode in his kind of globe-trotting roadshow, in far a different location than Ukraine.

The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the affair, placing Giuliani at the center of an effort to negotiate the exit from Office of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

It came, according to The Post, as news to White House officials and, apparently, against the wishes of then National Security Advisor, John Bolton. Neither Bolton's lawyer nor the White House nor Giuliani responded to requests for comment from The Post.

Be back now with Carrie Cordero, Alice Stewart, and - and Paul Begala.

Alice, I - I knew you wanted to respond to, I think, something Carrie said - said before.

STEWART: Yes. Just a - just a quick follow-up. She'd mentioned about Mick Mulvaney, and information he knew, and didn't know. Look, this is another thing that came out of that piece that I would - I'm curious about.

Mick Mulvaney, who really has carried a lot of the President's water with regard to this Ukraine situation, and really gone out on a limb for him, I thought it was interesting that he's left out of a lot of these meetings with President Trump and Rudy Giuliani.

And that'd be something, if I was Mick Mulvaney, I would want to be in on those calls. The question, if I were a Democrat I would want to know, is what's the reason he was left out of those meetings?

Is it for him to have plausible deniability or is it truly because the - the President and Rudy Giuliani wanted attorney-client privilege? That is something of - of this whole article, I think, anyone would want to know the answer to that. And I think--


STEWART: --it'd be interesting to find that out.

COOPER: Yes. Paul, Alice raises an interesting point. I mean, in the article, I think it indicates that he was like - leaving the room because he wanted to give them attorney-client privilege.

To me, that raises the question well then he's - he's assuming that - that whatever business they are conducting is legal business--

BEGALA: Right.


COOPER: --is personal, is, you know, based on the President's personal interests.

If they're discussing Ukrainian policy, and Mulvaney thinks it's all the President's personal interest, that sort of argues against the very notion that he was doing the people's business in holding up aid to Ukraine, if it's all just - this is all just part of his personal, you know, shenanigans with Rudy Giuliani.

BEGALA: Right. I - I - I have a lot to agree (ph). I'll let Carrie speak more precisely though because I'm - I'm a terrible lawyer.

But even a terrible lawyer knows that the attorney-client privilege isn't some magic cloak of invisibility. It only applies when you're giving legal advice. And, of course, there's a crime fraud exception, if in fact a crime was occurring.

But it doesn't - you know, if I'm talking to my lawyer, Bob Barnett, best lawyer in the world, and Barnett says to me, "Bet on UVA in the Orange Bowl," that's not legal advice. That's good football advice perhaps.

But it's just - it's - it's why Rudy needs to be under oath. It's why Mr. Mulvaney needs to be under oath. It's why these other aides need to be under oath. It's why the - the - the pressure on Republican Senators is going to be enormous to simply get these people and get the facts.

It may be that Alice is right. It may be that Mr. Blair completely exonerates the President. Well let's clear his good name. Let's get Mr. Blair up there under oath to clear the good name of our fine unimpeachable President.

COOPER: Carrie, you know, one of the things that I - I've sort of come to kind of be pretty sure about is that it's really a good idea to pay your lawyer because your lawyer then is working for you and - and he has - allegedly has your best interests. If you're not paying your lawyer, but your deal is you allow your lawyer to make all sorts of side deals with whoever they happen to be able to bring into their net because of their contact with you, that leaves a whole lot of room for shenanigans is, to use a stupid word, to go on.

I mean if Giuliani is using its - the President as his calling card and then striking, you know, security deals with officials in Ukraine, and Turkey, and then trying to lobby the President but - for clients he has, and then who knows, you know, he was trying to get Maduro out in Venezuela, but also then trying to set up security arrangements for the new Venezuelan regime, and supply, you know, surveillance equipment to the army, none of that is a good idea if that's your envoy.

CORDERO: Well it's also the not the nature of pro bono lawyering.

I mean there's all sorts of really wonderful lawyering that goes on to the - during the country that's pro bono or not-for-pay, and those really are, you know, real legal matters, but that's not what is going on between the President and Rudy Giuliani.

And he is engaged in all sorts of things, Paul's right, that would not be legally privileged as attorney-client. They're trying to perhaps maintain some sort of facade that the conversations that they have are the legal advice of a lawyer to the client.

But given all of the other things that Rudy Giuliani is going - is - is involved with, that seems unlikely. And, you know, there is this piece where we just sort of have come to accept this odd relationship between the President and Rudy Giuliani, as his lawyer.

But really, when we think about what was in that article, the pet - the passage that Alice was describing where Mick Mulvaney steps out of the office, whenever the President is discussing things with Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani is - does not work for the U.S. government. He doesn't work for the U.S., the American people, and he really should not be involved in matters of State.

So, if there are actual matters of State that Mick Mulvaney is stepping out for, for the President to be able to discuss with Rudy Giuliani, then that means that the President is using him in a way that is on - on not potentially national defense matters or national security matters.

Certainly, this matter of Ukraine was an important national defense matter. And so, it really is actually quite a serious matter, this unusual relationship that they have.


CORDERO: And it's just a blurring of lines between personal and official--


CORDERO: --U.S. government business.

COOPER: Alice, I got like 20 seconds. I'll give you the last thought.

STEWART: Yes. There's nothing more costly and expensive than free help, and that is the real concern here when - when Rudy Giuliani is not accepting a paycheck from this President or the United States.

It really does raise the question all of this work he's doing on the side and around the world--


STEWART: --who is benefiting from that? Hopefully, it's this President and the United States, but we - we just don't know.

COOPER: I - tomorrow, I'm calling any attorney I have ever met and make sure all my bills are paid. Carrie Cordero, Alice Stewart--

STEWART: Good advice!

COOPER: --Paul Begala, I hope you have a happy New Year.

STEWART: You too.

COOPER: Still to come, tonight, two horrific attacks, two sets of worshippers this weekend, why hate crimes are on the rise.



COOPER: Tonight, the Attorney General of the New York State announced that she'll establish a task force which will investigate hate groups after the stabbings of five people at Hanukkah celebration, Saturday night, in Rockland County, New York. It's the latest in a series of anti-Semitic attacks in or around New York City.

More than a 1,000 miles away, we saw another dramatic example of innocent people attacked while trying to practice their faith this weekend. A man opened fire inside a Texas church, killing two people.

We're about to show you that attack, as it unfolded, and we do want to warn you. We all - we are blurring the most disturbing images. It is disturbing nonetheless. It is also very loud.

But it is something we believe it's important to show. The - the bravery of the hero who took down the attacker in just a matter of seconds, as churchgoers dove for the floor, and security members, a former Reserve Deputy Sheriff and a Firearms Instructor.

Here's the video of the shootout, which you'll see at the top of the screen.



COOPER: That's how fast it happened!

As with the shooting in the church, the home where the Hanukkah attack took place was packed with worshippers.

Miguel Marquez now with the new details in the New York investigation.



MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, federal hate crime charges lay out what prosecutors say was the anti-Semitic motivation behind a machete-wielding attack on Hasidic Jews at a Rabbi's home in the middle of a Hanukkah celebration.

Investigators say on the suspect's phone's internet history from recent days, searches for synagogues in New York, and New Jersey, the search terms "Why did Hitler hate the Jews?" and "Prominent companies founded by Jews in America."

From the 37-year old's home, investigators say they recovered handwritten journals, expressing anti-Semitic sentiments, and references to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, which asserts they are the true descendants of ancient Israelites and Jews are interlopers.

The teachings of the same group were connected, says a law enforcement official, to the attack on a kosher markets in New Jersey earlier this month.

JOSEF GLUCK, SURVIVED STABBING ATTACK: He comes after me, "Hey you! I'll get you!"

MARQUEZ: Josef Gluck was in the Rabbi's home when the suspect walked in, and announced, say investigators, "No one is leaving," wielding an 18-inch machete, and according to court documents, began stabbing and slashing people.

Five people suffered serious injuries, including a severed finger, slash wounds, and deep lacerations. One remains in critical condition with a skull fracture.

GLUCK: I started to come back through the front door. I opened the door, saw one old - older gentleman bleeding. He stayed in there. And the - the attacker came back from the kitchen through the main room.

MARQUEZ: Gluck had the presence of mind to chase the attacker to his car and get his license plate number.

Less than two hours after the attack, the suspect was arrested by NYPD officers, as he returned to Manhattan. The video of that arrest captured on security camera and released by NYPD.

Investigators say his clothing and hands had blood on them, and the car smelled of bleach, in a possible attempt to wash away evidence.

MICHAEL SUSSMAN, HANUKKAH STABBING SUSPECT'S ATTORNEY: My impression from speaking with him is that he needs serious psychiatric evaluation.

MARQUEZ: The suspect's family says he is a former Marine, and is not anti-Semitic, but does have mental health issues. His lawyer says he looked over the same journals described by investigators.

SUSSMAN: There is no suggestion in any of those ramblings and pages of writing of an anti-Semitic motive.

MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN, Rockland County, New York.


COOPER: Hate attacks like the one in Rockland County are on the rise. There's no question about it.

Perspective now from Jonathan Greenblatt, who's CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.

As someone who's called for - for, you know, the full extent of the law in these attacks, and we know - what do you think about the hate crime charges filed today?


When someone bursts into a person's home, after having driven almost a half an hour, with a machete, and attempts to butcher them, while they're lighting a Hanukkah menorah, that isn't an accident, that isn't just a happenstance crime.

That's a hate crime, plain and simple. And calling it out, as it is, is critical, so the broader community understands.

This wasn't just an isolated incident. This wasn't just, again, an - an attack or a crime committed against a single family. It's a threat to the entire community. It needs to be treated as such.

COOPER: And - and you have seen in New York a - a rising problem on this on rising hate crimes.

GREENBLATT: We've seen a rising problem across the country. I mean, look, this happened last weekend or - this happened over the past few days, after a series of incidents over the past several years. We have nearly double the number of anti-Semitic incidences across the country just a few years ago that we - as we are today.

COOPER: Double?

GREENBLATT: Double. And, in New York, we've had hundreds of anti- Semitic incidences in Manhattan, and in Brooklyn, and now in Muncie.

COOPER: What - what accounts for that? I mean can - can you - can you track that?

GREENBLATT: I think there were several things that are affecting us.

Number one, we have an environment where hate has almost become part of the public conversation on a daily basis. We have leaders who engage in prejudice. It happens full-stop from the highest levels of the land.

Secondly, we see leaders in other positions of authority who almost dismiss or deny that anti-Semitism is a problem.

But when you fling around conspiracy theories, when you make accusations against Zionists, in a haphazard sort of way, when you hold Jews collectively responsible for all the world's ills, this creates an environment which anti-Semitism is tolerated, at a time when we need a zero-tolerance policy and prejudice.

COOPER: It also when leaders use lent - that language and that sort of have that attitude, it emboldens everybody else.

GREENBLATT: Yes. You know, you can think of anti-Semitism like a virus.

It's been around for thousands of years. It - it existed before we had a - the United States of America, right? Literally, it's been a problem part of the human condition for millennia. So, this virus exists just under the surface.

But when our collective immune system is weakened because, again, leaders engage in prejudice, because other people don't call it out when it happens, because social media encourages a remarkable amount of slander and stereotyping, when our collective immune system weakens, the virus explodes, and it shows up in awful ugly ways, as happened this weekend.


COOPER: I still cannot get over Charlottesville. I cannot get over the fact that hundreds of Americans were willing to show up, you know, carrying Nazi flags, and chanting "Jews will not replace us," and "Blood and soil," and, you know, with a tiki torch march of hundreds of people, I mean I just find that in the United States, which battled Nazism, which battled hate--


COOPER: --that - that - I mean, obviously, I'm not an idiot. I know these groups exist.


COOPER: But the blatant showing of those colors--


COOPER: --to me is--

GREENBLATT: Yes. I mean, it's we were talking about this. I remember it very distinctly. It's just a few years ago, right? And our analysts at ADL, we knew that rally would be big. It's much larger than we thought.

But flash-forward to 2018, we had a record number of hate crimes, the third highest total we've seen in 40 years of collecting this data. What's interesting is only 13 percent were committed by known White supremacists. So, stated differently, almost 90 percent were committed by ordinary people.

Talk about acts of harassment, vandalism, and violence, and the machete assailant this weekend, he had known ties to White supremacist groups. We don't know definitively he was part of some Black Hebrew Israelites sect.

We don't know anything about him other than he was a deranged individual. And that's the problem, the normalization of anti- Semitism, Anderson, an environment which people feel like it's OK to traffic in these tropes, to push around this kind of prejudice.

We need our leaders to lead. We need this to stop now.

COOPER: Jonathan Greenblatt, appreciate your time.

GREENBLATT: Thank you.

COOPER: Thank you.

Just ahead, it is neck and neck in Iowa at the top of the race. I'll speak with one of the Democrats who is hoping to break through the logjam, former Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick.



COOPER: Only five weeks to go before the first real test in the 2020 election when the voters finally get their say. Democrats are swarming Iowa with the stakes rising for the field of 15 now, who are left. They're hitting each other more directly in these final days.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after Joe Biden this weekend for his vote to authorize the Iraq War. The South Bend Mayor called it the "Worst foreign policy decision made by the United States in his lifetime."

Bernie Sanders told an Iowa audience that when it comes to questions about his Medicare-for-All plan, he shouldn't be the only one facing scrutiny.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is fair to ask me how I'm going to pay for it. That's fair.

But it is also fair for my opponents to explain to the people in this room why it is just ain't right that people are paying $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 a year for healthcare today when they cannot afford that outrageous cost.


COOPER: Among the rivals challenging Sanders, on the Medicare-for-All concept, former Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick. I spoke with him just before airtime tonight.


COOPER: You heard what Bernie Sanders say - says. As somebody who opposes the idea of Medicare-for-All, how do you respond to him? What - what - why is it OK? What - you know, is the alternative fair?

DEVAL PATRICK (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, the alternative is not the status quo, at least in my view.

And - and my - I think it's not exactly correct to say "I oppose Medicare-for-All," because frankly, we're using that slogan to mean a whole bunch of different things today, Anderson.

COOPER: Right.

PATRICK: What I believe having had the experience of extending healthcare to 99 percent of the residents in Massachusetts is that building on the ACA with a public option is a better and smarter way to learn as we go. And so, if that public option is Medicare, that's fine.

But what I like about that approach is that, you know, the creative tension you have from the private insurance industry, on the one hand, having to figure out how to compete for all the folks who are going to move to that no-cost or low-cost public option.

That's a good thing in terms of driving system costs down. And frankly, we need some innovation in Medicare as well.

COOPER: Your decision to enter the race, you entered late obviously, you know, people had talked about you entering before.

Was it that you saw that in if there are lanes that candidates are in that, you know, people will say you're in the more moderate centrist wing of the Democratic Party, they would say you're sort of in the Joe Biden, I guess, Buttigieg lane, if you will, Amy - Senator Klobuchar.

Do you see a Joe Biden as - I mean, is that the lane you're in?


COOPER: Do you - do you--

PATRICK: So, I - I've, you know-- COOPER: Obviously, no one likes to be put into a lane.

PATRICK: That's it. I mean I - I don't think any of us really fits in it - into a box. I - we were ready to go a little bit more than a year ago actually.

We were about three weeks from a - from a stepping-out date when my wife, Diane, was diagnosed with uterine cancer. And, you know, we celebrated 35 years in May. I'm - I'm - I'm delighted to say and relieved to say she's cancer-free.

And I've continued to watch a - a field that includes candidates, all of whom I respect, and many of whom are my friends, but who seem to be missing the moment. And when I say missing--

COOPER: Missing the moment, and what is that?

PATRICK: Well in the - in the sense that, you know, we've - there's a lot of perfectly understandable focus on the incumbent President, and what - and how divisive and - and destructive he is.

But if the - if the character of the candidates is always an issue, this time, it's the character of the country.

We have an opportunity now to address the anxiety and the fear and the hurt that everybody is feeling in different ways, in many cases, for the same reasons. And to use that as an opportunity to unite the country, fix systems, but also unite the country.

COOPER: Do you think it's a mistake for Democrats to focus so much on the character of President Trump? You know, you have Mayor Bloomberg running a lot of ads attacking - looking, you know, focusing on the character of Trump.

I - I saw there - there was a poll just - a new Gallup poll, President Obama and President Trump were tied at 18 percent for the Most Admired Man of 2019.

PATRICK: Do you still believe polls?

COOPER: Well, no, I don't, actually, but you know.

PATRICK: No. I mean, look, I think - I think that - that - that beating President Trump is obviously a - a prerequisite.

But if all we do is offer a - a formula for removing him from Office with the implication that we're going to go back to doing what we used to do, we're going to miss this moment, right?

We have, you know, that you look at the financial numbers, look at the economic indicators, they don't tell the whole story, right?

We have low unemployment so long as you count both or all three of the minimum-wage jobs folks are doing to survive.

[21:45:00] We have - we have, you know, low inflation as long as you don't count the cost of housing, healthcare, education, right, the very things that enable people to lift themselves into - onto a path of economic mobility.

So, having - having grown up, you know, on welfare on the Southside of Chicago, and lived my American Dream, you know, going to college and being a Civil Rights attorney, a business executive, a two-term - a two-term Governor, I - I see that American Dream becoming more and more out of reach for more and more people.

I think it is a thing worth defending. And I think we will get there in part by reforming systems. We also have to - have to have a strategy for growing opportunities.

COOPER: You weren't able to get on the - the Michigan primary ballot to - you failed to qualify for that. Obviously, it's a key state. Does that make it - I mean, how much more difficult does that make it for you?

PATRICK: Well we're looking at all of our options. I mean, that's a wacky situation. I don't know how many of those details you know.

There were two candidates who had not announced at the time that the Party sent the list over to - over to the Secretary of State. One's name they put on, and one's name they didn't. What's right about that? So, I mean just fundamentally that didn't work.

But it turns out, you know, there are other candidates who've had trouble getting on - on ballots, Senator Booker, Secretary Castro has that trouble. We've got a kind of a messed-up system.

But look, we're going to do what we need to do. We're raising money to be competitive. We are - we'll be up very soon on television in the early states, particularly in New Hampshire and - and South Carolina.

We have organizations in each of those states, and it's a wide-open race. So, you know, I'm later, not late. Later! It's not late until the voters vote, and it's important to remember that.

COOPER: Governor Deval Patrick, appreciate your time.

PATRICK: Thanks for having me.

COOPER: Thanks.

PATRICK: I appreciate it.

COOPER: Happy New Year.

PATRICK: Thank you and to you.


COOPER: More coming up on this eve of New Year's Eve, including my conversation with Musical legend, Linda Ronstadt, her artistry and her incredible career.


COOPER: Linda Ronstadt is one of this country's musical legends. From rock to country to rhythm and blues, she's soared with her unique voice and presence.

I spoke with her recently at The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington about her beginnings, her self-confidence, her lack of it at times, and the incredible arc of her career.

It's all part of the new CNN Film, "LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE."



COOPER: I hadn't realized how early you started singing. I mean, it seems like music from the earliest memories were - were part of your life.

LINDA RONSTADT, SINGER: 2. I remember trying to write a song when I was 2 on the piano.

COOPER: When you were 2?

RONSTADT: Yes. It was called, "Tweet, Tweet, Tweet." It was about a bird.

COOPER: Did you ever plan on, I mean, becoming a superstar or was it--

RONSTADT: I never thought about that. I - I thought I wanted to sing. And I thought it would be nice if I could make my living singing and then paying the rent and groceries, I wouldn't have to go work in a bank or something else.

But - and I always managed to do that. I never had to get a different job. But, you know, when I was getting paid $30 a week to - to sing, I thought I was doing fine. I thought that was really success.

COOPER: What did you feel when you were singing, and especially, early on.

RONSTADT: I just felt like I wanted to make myself feel like music that I'd like made me feel. You know, I hear (INAUDIBLE) or I don't know, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, and I go on to do that, want to feel that way.

COOPER: The act of singing was it - was it joyful?

RONSTADT: Well, it was something because people used to turn around when I'd sing and I - you know, in school, you're supposed to pretend to sing. You kind of la-la-la, but I was going "Let's sing," you know because my family sang, so I sang with my older brother, who was in the Tucson Arizona Boys Choir, one of the soloists. He was wonderful. COOPER: And he taught you about vibrato and--

RONSTADT: Yes, he did. He did. And - and - and we learned harmonies. We just didn't have to be taught them. We just knew how to sing harmony. We used to sing in the back of the car. We used to sing with our hands in the dishwasher.

I think everybody should do their own singing. You don't have to be a professional. You don't have to delegate your sorrows to professionals. You can sing your own sorrows.

COOPER: You don't have to delegate your sorrows.

RONSTADT: Some music is just for privacy, you know, it's just something you sing in your bedroom and some music is something you play at the piano maybe to just a select group of friends. Not everything is meant for the big world.

COOPER: Were you confident as a singer? I mean did you know how good you - you - you - you are?

RONSTADT: Oh, I never thought I was good.

COOPER: You didn't?

RONSTADT: I always thought I might get a little better tomorrow. But I always felt that my phrasing was kind of hope - hopeless.

COOPER: In the - in the documentary, it - somebody says about you that when you would be on stage, if you saw people in the front row, two people sort of whispering to each other, that you assumed they were saying bad things about you.

RONSTADT: Yes. "Poor Linda, she can't sing."

COOPER: You really felt that? Even - I mean you're on a stage in front of thousands of people.

RONSTADT: I try to keep my eyes closed. You don't see the audience very much because they're not lit but you are, so you can pretend you are all by yourself. It's when I see the audience I go "Why are all those people staring at me?"

Because in the animal kingdom when some - another animal's staring at you, they probably want to eat you.

COOPER: It's a hostile gesture.

RONSTADT: Yes. It's just deep - deep-rooted instinct, you know?

COOPER: Was there ever a point where you were satisfied with it - with the quality of it?

RONSTADT: In the '90s, I sang better than I sang in the '80s. In the 80s, I sang better than I sang in the 70s. That's the only thing. It's always a work in progress. It's - it's very weird to hear recording because it's frozen in time. And when you do, and I go "Oh, I sang it better in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1978."

You know, you remember the moment that you really achieve something. But it's not the whole song even. It's just a phrase or a note. You go "Oh, that - that was the gold standard," you know.

COOPER: So it's just a little - a little piece of - of a song that you feel, OK, that - that meets my standard.

RONSTADT: Yes. When I hear records, I go that phrase was nice. That measure was nice. That song sucked. You know, that - that - that song proves I never could sing my whole life anyway.

COOPER: You weren't a songwriter but you picked songs and you made them your own, and I mean, in such an extraordinary way. How did you know what songs to--

RONSTADT: Well I've--

COOPER: Because it seems like a number of them, you - you heard on the radio or you heard somewhere?

RONSTADT: Well, I'd hear something and it would speak to me urgently that that was like something I'd felt in my life. Sometimes it was only a phrase, you know, and then I have to figure out how to make the rest of the song fit. And sometimes it was not musically terribly well-suited to my style but I'd have to make it that way.


COOPER: As I said, a remarkable artist, and a remarkable career. Here's a quick preview of that CNN Films documentary, "LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She came to Los Angeles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, it's Linda Ronstadt.


RONSTADT: I was 18 years old and we formed a little band. We called ourselves "The Stone Poneys."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The L.A. scene (ph) was in gear, and the whole damn thing broke loose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was rock music, folk music, comingling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can we define what this is going to be?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Linda was the queen. She was like what Beyonce is now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was the only female artist to have five platinum albums in a row.


RONSTADT: "I Can't Help It If I'm Still in Love With You" was a hit on the country charts, "You're No Good" was a hit on both the R&B chart and the pop chart. I became the first artist to have a hit on all three charts.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was the first female rock-and-roll star.






COOPER: Who'd have thunk it! New Year's Eve 2020 is just about here. In fact, less than 24 hours from now, Andy Cohen and I will once again be in Times Square where the weather forecast is actually not terrible. Here's a look at some of the joys of last year's program.



COOPER: It's amazing.

A. COHEN: I don't even care about the rain.

COOPER: No one cares about the rain.

A. COHEN: Boy, the rain is really picking up.

COOPER: No talking about the weather.

A. COHEN: No. But I'm - I'm enjoying it.

COOPER: I don't want to talk about the weather.

A. COHEN: I'm cozy as I'll get out.

COOPER: They don't even want us to have the umbrella. It's been a fight.

A. COHEN: Yes. We've been fighting with them about the umbrella.

COOPER: Yes, you would be proud of your son, though. He - he literally was like "Put me in a paddy wagon." A. COHEN: I did, I just said "Take me away."

COOPER: I'm not - I'm not getting rid of this umbrella.

A. COHEN: It's true.

A. COHEN: I mean, this is some--


A. COHEN: --grade A BS.

How was that hurting anybody? It's, like, a joke. What do - what do they care about an umbrella? I was so happy before. I just want to say it's pouring.


COOPER: By the way, I finally, at one point, during a commercial break, turned to Andy, and was like, "Shut up, Umbrella, the stupid umbrella and the rain. No one wants to hear about it." And he then stopped talking about it.

By the way, Times Square Alliance, they reversed their decision. They now allow umbrellas. So, Andy's, as he likes to think of himself is like the Norma Rae of Times Square. There's almost no chance of rain tomorrow night, according to weather reports, which I never really believe.

Our coverage kicks off tomorrow night, 8:00 P.M. Eastern, live from Times Square. We go to 12:30. Don Lemon takes over, just as he does right now. Let's turn it over to Don Lemon and CNN TONIGHT.