Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

President Trump defy his own intelligence; Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore accused of sexually molested a 14-year-old; Comedian Louis C.K. after multiple women came forward; Aired 7:00- 8:00p ET

Aired November 12, 2017 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:11] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: It is 7:00 p.m. here in New York. 8:00 in the morning of Monday in Manila, the Philippines. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Ana Cabrera.

Welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM.

You will only see this on CNN. Two men who were once responsible for the security of the United States today saying that President Trump's quote "(INAUDIBLE), ignorance or fear could be putting the United States in danger.

I'm talking about James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence and John Brennan, the one-time CIA director. They were both singled out by President Trump this weekend who called them quote "political hacks." This after President Trump declared that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin and not the American intelligence community on whether Moscow actively helped him win the White House last year. The Russians saying, no, they didn't meddle. American intelligence officials across the board, even some that the President appointed, strongly disagree.

Earlier today, those two men, Clapper and Brennan, were on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper saying that President Trump is being duped by foreign interests. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, first of all, he was referring to us as political hacks because he was trying to de- legitimatize the intelligence assessment that was done.

Jim Clapper, Jim Comey and John Brennan did not write that assessment. It was written by the professional intelligence officers and law enforcement officers of this great country. Secondly, I feel very honored to be associated with Jim Clapper and Jim Comey in the same category. And considering the source of the criticism, I consider that criticism a badge of honor.

And third, I found it particularly reprehensible that on Veterans Day that Donald Trump would attack and impugn the integrity and the character of Jim Clapper, who served in uniform for 35 years, who responded to the call of his country to go for Vietnam, flew in over 70 combat support missions over Vietnam. And like senator McCain really did put his life at risk because of this country's national security.

And to impugn the character of somebody like Jim Clapper on veterans day who has dedicated so much of his life to this country, I just find that outrageous and it's something that I -- I think that Mr. Trump should be ashamed of, but it doesn't seem as though anything he does he feels any shame whatsoever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta has been traveling with the President throughout Asia. He is in Manila right now.

Jim, has there been any response from the President or the administration on these comments?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, not yet. There will be a couple of opportunities for President Trump to be asked questions today. We will see if this question is asked. Obviously, that is some pretty tough criticism coming from some two respected former members of the U.S. intelligence community.

But at this point, Boris, no apologies, no regrets from President Trump. He was asked about all of this yesterday at a press conference with the President of Vietnam. And accompanying that press conference, the President also put out a tweet responding to all of this and we can put this up on screen.

He says when will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing? They are always playing politics, misspelling there. Bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help.

That goes right in the vain of what the President was saying in this press conference with the president of Vietnam. When the President was asked directly, yes or no, can you put the matter to rest? Do you believe Russia meddled in the 2016 election? He did not do that. But he did go on to say that he trusts the intelligence community, at least the one that is currently constituted right now, meaning the people that he has put in place. Here is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I said that I'm surprised that there's any conflict on this. What I said there is that I believe he believes that and it's very important for somebody to believe. I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether I believe it or not, I'm with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership. I believe in our Intel agencies, our intelligence agencies. I've worked with them very strongly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Now, we will see if the President has something to say about this, about that criticism coming from people like Clapper and Brennan. He will have a bilateral meeting with the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte who at times has sounded like something of a kindred spirit with President Trump. In the last couple of years, Boris, President Duterte here in the Philippines has referred to Barack Obama as a son of a whore. He also said at one point during one of the former President's trips here to the Philippines that Barack Obama could go to hell. And so it will be interesting to see just how President Trump and President Duterte get along.

Keep in mind Duterte has come under some pretty heavy criticism in this part of the world and even globally for how he carries out his war on drugs, extra judicial killings and so on that has raised a lot of red flags in the human rights community around the world -- Boris.

[19:05:15] SANCHEZ: Certainly a colorful character, Rodrigo Duterte.

Jim Acosta reporting from Manila. Thank you.

Let's get to our panel now. I want to bring in the former U.S. ambassador to China Max Baucus. He also as a U.S. Senator form Montana. Also with us Steve Hall, who once ran the CIA's Russia operations and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a senior fellow at the council on relations and CNN national security analyst.

Ambassador Baucus, let's start with you. The President says that he believes that Vladimir Putin is being genuine. Then he says he is with our intelligence agencies on the issue of meddling. Putin and our intelligence agencies are saying two different things. How does this make sense?

MAX BAUCUS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: Well, it doesn't make sense. And it's very disturbing for a couple of reasons. One, the intelligence community across the board, including members of Congress, have concluded that Russia has indeed meddled in the United States elections. And it looks like if that's not stopped. They are going to continue to meddle because they want to disrupt our process. I mean Putin is very tough. He is very strong. He is very opinionated. He will push as hard as he can.

It's also troublesome for another reason. China sees all this. President Xi sees all this. And he gives President Xi an opportunity, well, gee, they are even more disorganized, the United States, than I thought. And add to that, he has consolidated power for himself. So it puts us in a very bad position vis-a-vis the world and certainly between the United States and China and Russia and the United States.

SANCHEZ: Steve, let's put the issue of meddling aside. Let's talk about Vladimir Putin. He is a former KGB agent. Around the world he is regarded as a strong man who has squashed opponents through brutal means. Should the American people take Vladimir Putin at his word the way that President Trump seems to be doing?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Boris, absolutely not. I mean, you know, the idea that Vladimir Putin is sincere, I mean I don't know that those words often come together, you know, at all. I mean, again, what the President seemed to be saying, you know, doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

One thing that I thought was particularly interesting from John Brennan's comments today was the idea that perhaps Donald Trump fears something. And you know, there is always been a theory that there is comport, there is some sort of compromising information. And Brennan seemed to be hinting that that might be -- that might actually be the case. It certainly answers the question as to why Donald Trump, who has no problems disparaging any of his, you know, anybody he wants to, anybody who appears to be against him, he doesn't do it with Vladimir Putin.

Even allies. And, you know, I think we have a tendency to focus, you know, on some of the salacious stuff we have heard about from the Steele Dossier, for example. Perhaps it's not that, though. Perhaps it's something on Trump's family or perhaps the Russians actually have firm evidence of some sort of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump team. That would certainly cause Donald Trump to act the way he's acting vis-a-vis Russia and Vladimir Putin.

SANCHEZ: And some critics have speculated that's part of the reason the President refused to release his tax returns during the campaign.

Moving away from that, Gayle, Brennan has made the case that President Trump can be played by foreign leaders that appeal to his ego and prey on his insecurities. He says that the Chinese and the Russians are playing the American President. How so?

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: That is the discussion you hear among a lot of folks inside the national security and foreign policy community who express their concern that the President really is being flattered or being, you know, told what he wants to hear by leaders in China and Russia.

And what is fascinating, though, is that, you know, President Trump talks a lot about going down the escalator and announcing his candidacy. But I think in a lot of people's minds there's an escalator up for China and the Chinese leadership this time because really you didn't hear a lot of criticism, you heard a lot of discussion on common ground and you heard really the President coming away talking about what a great visit it was without a lot of deliverables to bring home to the United States.

SANCHEZ: Ambassador, back to you. Former CIA director John Brennan went as far as to say that Donald Trump was being intimidated by Vladimir Putin. Do you agree?

BAUCUS: Well, certainly President Xi is a strong man. President Putin is a strong man. They are very experienced. They have been around a long, long time. President Trump is pretty inexperienced in this arena. He has no foreign policy experience and no government experience. They are very tough people, Putin and Xi. And I think that it's really President Trump should show that he is strong. Strong in the best sense of the term. No, he can't bully Putin. He can't bully Xi. He can't do that. He has got to show that we in the United States are going to stand up, we are going to bring our country together. We are strong and we are going to protect our interests in a very solid, constructive way. I think that's about the only way he can and should approach the two of them.

[19:10:21] SANCHEZ: Steve, someone that was definitely watching each step of this Asia trip very closely was North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. How do you think he reads this interaction between Vladimir Putin and President Trump, specifically because just a few days ago, Donald Trump said that the United States would not run from conflict, but it seems like he's moving on from the fact that Russia tried to interfere in our democracy.

HALL: Yes, I think the ambassador is right. I mean, all of these dictators, all of these strong men, whether it's in North Korea, China or in Russia are sort of analyzing, OK, how can this new American President without a whole lot of experience in these types of things be manipulated and be moved around in a way they find beneficial.

And you know, one thing that the Trump side has been saying is, look, we just want to move beyond this because we have important issues like North Korea, as you mentioned, to deal with and we need people like Russia to help us. That is a complete -- I think when you talk about showing strength, we don't need Russia to solve these problems. We don't need -- as Trump said, we don't need Russia's help in solving Ukraine. Russia is the problem in Ukraine. And what needs to happen to show strength, as the ambassador indicated, whatever despot you're talking about, we don't need, for example. Russia to solve these problems. We might need China with some of the North Korean stuff, but you can't say let's engage and be happy. That's what Vladimir Putin is hoping will happen.

And in fact one of the strongest messages to send to Vladimir Putin is, you know, you are the source of the problem, not somebody that we need to cooperate with so much to resolve our very difficult issues, to include North Korea.

SANCHEZ: Gayle, very quickly, the President's 12-day trip almost over. What grade would you give him so far?

LEMMON: I think we -- stay tuned, right? It's not quite finished. And I think what you see the President try to do is on the Russia front is this conscious uncoupling in the policy version, right, which is we can work with them on Syria, we can work with them on Ukraine, and on everything else we are going to have an issue.

But I mean, this is all while members of Congress are actively investigating what role Russia played in the 2016 elections and two members of Congress I spoke with this week were talking about worrying about 2018. So I think as much as some might want to turn the page, we have not yet heard the end of the story.

And while I do think the President has really worked to earn a very good grade from you and your colleagues here at CNN this trip, the question will be what does it mean for the policy down the road? Did anything change on North Korea? Did anything change on Russia? And even secretary Tillerson in China said, listen, the President talked about how there's a lot of positive, and there is, but really what we are bringing home so far is small. And I think we will see if any of that changes in the next couple days. SANCHEZ: Looking even further down the road to 2020, ambassador, I

have to ask you about this. Unrelated to Russia, you and former vice President Joe Biden have been close for years. He sat down for this interview promoting his new book with Oprah Winfrey. He was asked about running for President in 2020. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, TV SHOW HOST: Has there been a thought or consideration for 2020?

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, not yet.

WINFREY: No?

BIDEN: And I say that not yet because, look, I'm a great respecter of fate. I don't plan on running. I don't know what things are going to be two years from now. I just don't know. So I promise you, I'm not doing anything to organize running, but I'm going to go out there and continue to do what I have done since I have been 26 years old.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Ambassador, would you like to see a candidate Joe Biden run for President in 2020?

BAUCUS: Joe Biden is a great, wonderful man. He cares about this country as much if not more than almost anybody I know. He is just a wonderful man. Now, 2020 is a long ways away. But I sure am a big fan of Joe. He's terrific.

SANCHEZ: All right. We have to leave it there.

Ambassador Max Baucus, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon and Steve Hall, thank you so much for joining us this Sunday night.

Ahead this hour, a party at a crossroads. The fallout continues over accusations against Senate candidate Roy Moore. Republicans are stopping short of calling him -- of calling for him to drop out of the race, but is that enough?

Plus, a week later, how a tiny church in Texas is remembering the victims of a horrific tragedy.

And later, 40,000 cards just days after a 9-year-old cancer patient made a simple request. America and the world answered. Now Jacob Thompson got his early Christmas wish.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:19:06] SANCHEZ: Most Republican lawmakers are scrambling to distance themselves from Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl back in 1979 when he was in his 30s. So far President Trump has mostly been mum about the scandal, saying he doesn't of enough time on his Asia trip to devote to the scandal. But three senior White House officials are speaking out. And they say Moore should absolutely resign if, and that's a big if, the allegations are true. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: If more evidence comes out that can prove that he did this, then sure, by all means he should be disqualified. But that's a huge if.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: I also want to make sure that we as a nation are not always prosecuting people through the press. He has denied the allegations. I have read the stories. I have heard not the testimony and the evidence, but what people are saying publicly. I denounce that conduct. And if the allegations are true, he should step aside.

[19:20:06] STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I only know what I see on TV and what I read in the paper. But if the allegations prove to be true, he should step down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: I want to bring in CNN's senior political analyst, David Gergen.

Sir, thank you so much for joining us. You have served as an advisor to four American Presidents, both Republicans and Democrats. And we are really seeing a division within the Republican Party here. Many, including Senator Mike Lee of Utah, outright rescinding their endorsements of Roy Moore. Others using this caveat that the White House has used, saying if these allegations are true, he should step down. What do you make of that?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I make of it that there are great tensions within the Republican Party. I don't think this is just a moderate versus conservative split. Mike Lee is a strong conservative saying he should step down. Mitt Romney has already said that too. You know, he ought to step down without further investigations.

I think the danger the Republican Party is running is that this whole idea of having -- if these allegations are true, for many people it's seen as a dodge, as a way not really to remove the pressure from him to give him a free pass, and that could damage the Republican party.

Boris, it's worth pointing out tonight that there are some polls, state polls are not as reliable as we would like. But there are four state polls showing. This has gotten to be a tight race. This in a state of Alabama that Donald Trump a year ago carried by almost 30 percent.

One of those polls, it seems to be the more sophisticated one, one of the more sophisticated has the Democrat actually up four, which is a surprise. So Republicans -- this is a very difficult -- if it were to go in a shocker to the Democrats, that could really change the outlook for the Trump agenda.

SANCHEZ: CNN has been in Alabama since this story broke speaking to voters about these allegations. I want you to listen to what one man said who claims that he is a friend of Roy Moore's. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK FLOYD, ALABAMA VOTER: Well, Roy is my friend. I'm a Democrat and I'm not going to vote for him because I'm a Democrat. But I have known him a long, long time. The thing that bothers me about those charges is that he has been in public life, run for many offices, and as many times as it happened, no one has ever said anything till now. And I don't think it comes from any place except Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Not coming from any place except Washington. We have seen Steve Bannon, a strong supporter of Roy Moore, and even the President kind of play on this perception by many in the United States that feel like people in Washington are abusing them or somehow playing them. What does that tell you about the state of politics in this country, and how do politicians break that barrier to reach those voters?

GERGEN: Well, you know, there's been long a tradition in the country of what we call the lake woebegone effect in politics and that is politics is rotten but my guy is pretty darn good. The guy we got there. And you know, I think it's not surprising that a lot of people in Alabama will come to the defense of Roy Moore. They have known him a long time. And he does deserve a fair hearing.

So I'm not surprised by that. But I am saying that the national brand of the Republican Party could be hurt by this if he continues to hang in there and these charges sort of go -- nobody knows they are true. I think the national brand will be hurt and it's going to -- and in fact the Democrats could pick up a lot of votes.

What we don't know here is Roy Moore went through a strong battle against his fellow, Luther Strange in the primary, the Republican primary. We don't know where the Strange voters are going to go. Will they -- will they switch over and support Moore or will they go to the Democratic Party? That would be a big leap for them to go to the Democrats. I think this is still would be an upset for the Democrats to win the seat.

But these polls suggest there are some people on the Republican side and some independents who are uncomfortable with this Roy Moore story. And some of the other things he stands for, of course.

SANCHEZ: Right. We have heard from several Republicans, public officials who have said that if -- even if these allegations are true and Roy Moore is a child predator, they would rather have him in the Senate than a Democrat. That is kind of alarming, isn't it?

GERGEN: I do think that's alarming. And you know, frankly, it can be suicidal for a party to get into that position. And I really think that leaves a lot of vulnerability. You know, from the Republican standpoint, I think the most interesting solution would be if Roy Moore said, look, I didn't do these things but for the good of the party I'm stepping down. And then Jeff Sessions, who held that seat, were to run in his place. We know that Jeff Sessions is not terribly happy running the justice department.

If he went home and won that seat, you know, there would be a lot of Republicans that would shout, you know, whoopee on that because you'd preserve the vote on the Senate, have a person who is well liked in the Senate return there. There are all sorts of things. But that's not the direction we are going in right now but I'm just telling you from the long-term good of the Republican Party that might be a solution that would work.

SANCHEZ: A strange scenario, but stranger things have happened.

David Gergen, we got to leave it there. Thank you for the perspective.

GERGEN: OK. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Straight ahead, a somber remembrance just a week after a gunman killed 25 people and an unborn child. This tiny Texas church is now a memorial. We will take you inside, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:30:24] SANCHEZ: We are following breaking news tonight. At least 100 people are dead and at least 1,000 are injured after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit the Iran/Iraq border. This video just coming into CNN and it appears to be taken outside of a destroyed building. You can see rubble on the ground, what appears to be the inside of a home torn apart inside.

We also have this video that was taken inside a grocery store in Baghdad. You can see items on shelves, overhead lights swinging around. They are warning people to stay away from buildings and not use elevators. We are going to keep following the situation and bring you any updates as we receive them.

Back to the U.S. now. It was a week ago today that a lone gunman walked into a church in Texas and opened fire, killing 25 church members and an unborn child. Late today the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Spring reopened as a memorial for those victims. Visitors streamed through the thoroughly cleaned and repaired building with some special signifiers there of who were killed.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung had a chance to go inside the church memorial earlier today. She joins us now.

Kaylee, walk us through what you saw.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, 26 chairs sit inside First Baptist sanctuary, each chair placed where the victim's body was found. Each chair hand painted in gold the name of the victim. So as you walk through that sanctuary, you see where Joanne Ward threw her body on top of her children in an effort to protect them. You see Carla Holcombe's seat and the vantage point she must have had as the gunman walked through the doors of that church.

You hear a recording being played inside the church now. These are the voices of the victims being played, from moments past when they participated in their church's Sunday service. As you said, this sanctuary thoroughly cleaned. The carpet taken out, painted from floor to ceiling in white.

Former associate pastor Mark Collins explained why they felt such a sense of urgency to reopen the doors of this church.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK COLLINS, ASSOCIATE PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH: The message is that it was us that was attacked, and that being capitalized. It was all of us. And so I know a lot of times a situation like this, you go under a black tarp and never see the building again. And we wanted to prayerfully decide how we could memorialize those that we lost but also honor and respect them, but also make it open. People have traveled from the east coast just to come and stand on these grounds, and we wanted to make it where they could come and mourn in their own way those that we all have lost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: In the darkness and in the light rain people continue to wait in line tonight to walk through those doors. This memorial will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Friday of this week and on Sunday First Baptist congregation will hold their services in their church.

SANCHEZ: Kaylee Hartung reporting from Sutherland Springs, Texas. A community still reeling from heartbreak.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:37:54] SANCHEZ: From Hollywood celebrities to a U.S. Senate candidate, "Saturday Night Live "riffed on people accused of sexual misconduct on last night's show. Take a look at the guest host after Tiffany Haddish tackled Louis C.K.'s admission that he exposed himself to women even without mentioning his name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIFFANY HADDISH, SNL GUEST HOST/ACTRESS: We have been talking about the whole sexual harassment stuff that's been going on and look here, OK, guys. Fellas, I've got a tip for you all. I like to call it Tiffany's tip. It is a tip tip. Listen, fellas, listen. OK. If you got your thing out and she got all her clothes on, you are wrong! You are wrong! Wait till she take her own clothes off, then pull your thing out, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: CNN senior media correspondent and the host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter joins us now. Thanks for taking the time.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Thanks.

SANCHEZ: You have been following all of these controversies very closely. It started with Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore and on Friday, "The New York Times" publishing this account of Louis C.K. which he admitted to the allegations in that report. SNL makes light of dark themes sometimes. How did you think they did last night?

STELTER: Yes. Certainly as "The New York Times" said afterwards, some of the accused had harsher treatment than others, you know. There's been this feel that the late night comedy shows like SNL have gone easy on the liberal Hollywood celebrities that have come under scrutiny. Harvey Weinstein being the best example.

But I think as the weeks have gone on and this has become a global phenomenon, we have seen more jokes, more commentary on all the late- night talk shows. For example, on Friday night Louis C.K. was -- actually Thursday and Friday some of the shows roasted Louis C.K., really criticized him for this behavior. He has of course come out and apologized and now he is trying to lay low.

But every single day we are seeing new allegations against powerful men both in Hollywood and other industries. This weekend, a show runner of the drama "the Flash" was suspended, for example. So every single day now it continues.

And one of the jokes on SNL said it really well. It was Colin Jost said tonight we are going to stay inside, it's cold across much of the country and everyone you have ever heard of is a sex monster. That was his joke on "weekend update."

[19:40:10] SANCHEZ: Yes. They also caught some flak because they didn't say Louis C.K.'s name more than once. There were --

STELTER: Yes. You have to wonder there are some relationships here.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: He's been on four times. Do you think they gave him a fair shake or an even shake?

STELTER: You know, there was certainly more interest in the SNL writers room and going after Roy Moore. I think we can show that in a moment. But certainly these comedians, it is a small tight-knit club. There are relationships, there's also rivalries. I think there's a reckoning going on among this entire entertainment industry about who knew what when.

And Louis C.K. is a part of that now because rumors had spread about him, whispers had been around about him for a number of years. And I think there's some prominent male comedians who may have heard those whispers and ignored them. They're going to have to reckon with that personally.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Let's play that clip, the skit poking fun at the allegations against Roy Moore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roy, you have been doing some controversial stuff! Wave a gun around on stage. Tell folks Muslims shouldn't be allowed in Congress. And that 9/11 was god's punishment for -- I love it. You check a lot of boxes for me, Roy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Jeff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, this is really bad. I'm usually the creepiest one in the room, but I look at you and I'm like oh, my God. They say you even admitted to being with a couple of 16-year-olds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Jeff. You know I was just kidding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Well, that's a relief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, kidding is the term I use for dating young ladies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: It's a good joke but I think some folks will look at that and say that they are mocking southerners. I think for the SNL writers, whenever they have an excuse to have Kate McKinnon play Jeff Sessions, they are going to grab at that opportunity and they were doing that again here. And they were expressing a frequent liberal critique of the past few days, which has been that Roy Moore was an awful candidate and should be disqualified before "the Washington Post" story. That's definitely been a critique from the left SNL was channeling.

SANCHEZ: And even some Republicans yesterday, Senator Bob Corker tweeting out it was a bridge too far even before this "Washington Post" report.

STELTER: Right. Exactly.

SANCHEZ: Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," thank you so much. Thanks for joining us.

Christmas isn't that far off, but one little boy is celebrating early. How Jacob's wish rallied people around the world. An inspiring story, next in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:47:04] SANCHEZ: All of today's celebrity chefs owe one man a hat tip. His name is Jeremiah Tower. And he changed the entire American restaurant scene and also inspired CNN's Anthony Bourdain to make food his life's work.

CNN films premieres "Jeremiah Tower, the last magnificent" tonight at 9:00 eastern. Here's a sneak preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most people would not know who Jeremiah Tower is. And sadly. He certainly is considered in my book anyway a father of the American cuisine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the '80s and early '90s, Jeremiah Tower was one of the major names in this country. He was on the front of magazines. He was known all over Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The very first thing I heard about after I heard about it was Jeremiah Tower. He was the darling, the glamour puss, the sexy guy, the smart guy, and the innovative chef that became something that was what everyone wanted to know about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the '70s, Alice Waters opened Chez Panise (ph). You cannot begin to understand the impact on the food landscape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1972, Jeremiah Tower walks in Chez Panise (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone reluctantly would have to agree that he put the place on the map. Jeremiah Tower's menus made Chez Panise (ph) the place that everybody wanted to go. A complete re-evaluation of not just American food and ingredients, but food.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Our very own Ana Cabrera sat down with Jeremiah Tower and Anthony Bourdain for a special conversation. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is sort of your brain child, Tony, but yet you didn't know Jeremiah Tower before you started this project. You have said, however, that he is perhaps the most important or influential person in the food world. Why did you want to tell his story?

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN: Well, I have been aware of him for many years by reputation, of course. And unknowingly probably been cooking a lot of his dishes as most American chefs were once he appeared on the scene.

I read Jeremiah's memoir a few years back and it made me angry that this incredibly influential innovator and artist who changed the way all of us in the restaurant business cook, the way all of us in the ding public in America eat today --

CABRERA: How so? How did he change?

BOURDAIN: He was the first to proudly attribute ingredients to American sources, to proudly highlight California and American wines. He was romantic and respectful of the grand cuisine from France, but at the same time very forward thinking. And he changed -- and he was also the first chef who the public wanted to see in the dining room.

[19:50:05] CABRERA: Were you ahead of your time?

JEREMIAH TOWER, ICONIC CHEF, CHEZ PANISE, STARS: I think I was. I mean, I didn't, you know, if I had been 20 years later, I would be as rich as Wolf Gang Puck, for instance. But, you know, it's impossible for people to understand that we didn't really know what we were doing, you know. I wasn't thinking, I'm changing the United States, I'm changing the restaurant business. That moment when I did the California regional dinner in 1976, that's the evening that the wine spectator said was the match that set the fire to the revolution.

BOURDAIN: Changed everything.

TOWER: It changed everything. But did I know what I was doing? Yes and no.

CABRERA: It was the 80s, Jeremiah, when you opened stars.

TOWER: Yes.

CABRERA: And that, of course, is that iconic restaurant known to attract celebrities and socialists.

BOURDAIN: Villains, (INAUDIBLE).

CABRERA: Yes.

BOURDAIN: A mix of high and low that I think really distinguished stars and set it apart.

TOWER: Right.

BOURDAIN: This was a place where you could see politicians and, you know, a motorcycle gang at the same time.

TOWER: For the excitement I just -- whatever came along. I mean, there was a night when a homeless guy streak naked through the ding room and I stopped -- he saw me and stopped. And I handled him my glass of champagne. I said take a bow. We took a bow. Everybody got on their feet clapped and he ran off.

CABRERA: Was he the first celebrity chef?

BOURDAIN: He feels the first American celebrity chef for sure. I mean, before Jeremiah, chefs were considered, you know, back stairs help, service. You went in, you told that kitchen, you told the mater D what you wanted and they would get it for you. The last thing in the world you wanted to the was here from the chef much less see the chef. Jeremiah changed all that. Emeril, all of us have benefited greatly from what Jeremiah did at Stars.

TOWER: The shift to kind of between shape and these - and stars couldn't tell that -- I couldn't tell my grandmother I was working at a restaurant, that I was a chef. She would have disowned me.

CABRERA: Why?

BOURDAIN: It was considered a disgraceful profession.

TOWER: Disgrace.

BOURDAIN: Like post-prison or in between, you know, carpentry or loathing job.

CABRERA: I mean, why even going for that career path anyway?

BOURDAIN: Because we couldn't do anything else.

CABRERA: Got to get to the crux of this film.

TOWER: Right.

CABRERA: Because you disappeared at the height of your success. Why?

TOWER: Because there would be nothing more sad than sitting around the bay area at the height of my success when everybody is saying what's he doing next, you know. So I pulled a Greta gar bow who didn't say she wanted to be alone. She said I want to be left alone. So I thought the most creative thing I could do would be to disappear to the beach.

CABRERA: So what do you want your legacy to be and what do you see for your future, Jeremiah.

TOWER: The movie is the most wonderful statement I can think of. What's next is more beach.

CABRERA: More margaritas.

TOWER: Television show in development.

CABRERA: Stay tuned.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: CNN films debuts Jeremiah Tower, the last magnificent apparently featuring a story about a nude homeless man tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:00] SANCHEZ: A nine-year-old cancer patient is enjoying an early Christmas thanks to generous people from all over the world.

As Michael Holmes reports, little Jacob had only one last wish and it is coming true.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nine-year-old Jacob Thompson tears open Christmas presents with the excitement of any other kid his age. The holidays have come early for Jacob this year, unwrapping his gifts from a children's hospital bed in Portland, Maine.

After he was admitted last month, Jacob and his family learned that a two year long battle with cancer had taken a turn for the worse. Doctors told Jacob's family he likely wouldn't live to the end of the year. With Christmas less than two months away, Jacob's parents decided to bring their sop his favorite holiday early and Jacob had one single request. Homemade cards for anyone who could spare a bit of holiday cheer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just that little moment to make him happy and just to make his day.

HOLMES: After his parents spread the word to friends and the media, Jacob's wish was granted and then some. More than 40,000 cards and presents poured in from across the U.S. and beyond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's neat to hear that cards are coming in from all over the world. Denmark, Sweden, Antarctica, the U.K.

HOLMES: The response was so overwhelming New England law enforcement agencies coordinated to bring Jacob his gifts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

HOLMES: With a caravan of police cruisers and motorcycles making the special delivery.

KEITH PERRY, POLICE: When something bigger than us, you know, a mission comes up, something like this little boy and it pulls us together.

HOLMES: Each card, message and gift, a reminder that Jacob is not alone on his Christmas in November.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And seeing him smile and be happy, it's just been a messing to -- it fills my heart with such joy to see him happy like this.

HOLMES: Michael Holmes, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: In some cases it's never too early for Christmas.

I'm Boris Sanchez. Thank you so much for joining me this weekend.

And don't miss what's coming up tonight on CNN from executive producer Anthony Bourdain comes the story of America's first celebrity chef, CNN films, Jeremiah Tower, the last magnificent. That's at 9:00.

But first, "PARTS UNKNOWN" takes you too Puerto Rico. Don't miss it. Have a good night.