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Senators: Kushner Withheld E-mails on Russia, WikiLeaks; Panetta on Russia Probe, Harassment Debate; Hillary Clinton: Trump Obsessed with My Speaking Out; Trump Slams Franken for Groping Scandal; Hope Hicks to Face Mueller's Team Amid Russia Probe; Late- Night Comedians Take on Franken, Louis C.K. Scandals; Spotlight on America's First Celebrity Chef. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 18, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: -- senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee say Kushner received an e-mail about WikiLeaks and passed it on to a campaign official. Only, Kushner didn't recall any contact with WikiLeaks when he spoke to Congress.

And tonight, lawmakers are turning up the heat, raising the possibility that Kushner could have another date with Congress.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is joining us live now at the White House.

Boris, what more are you learning?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana. Just that investigators -- a source close to the Senate investigation that's being carried out that had testimony taken from Jared Kushner is telling us that he testified that he had had no personal contact with WikiLeaks and that he would -- he could not recall whether or not anyone on the campaign had contacts with WikiLeaks.

It was revealed, though, this week through the Senate Judiciary Committee, a letter that was published, that he not only apparently received a letter from Donald Trump, Jr. detailing his contacts with WikiLeaks, but then he also forwarded that e-mail along.

That letter was signed by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Grassley. And it says that Kushner failed to provide them with certain documents that they requested, specifically pertaining, some of them, to WikiLeaks.

Abbe Lowell, the attorney for Jared Kushner, put out a statement, saying that the Senate Judiciary Committee was asking got you questions.

He writes, in part, quote, this is a classic got you question. Mr. Kushner was asked if he has contacts with WikiLeaks, Guccifer, or D.C. Leaks, and said no. He also said he did not know of such contacts by the campaign. From all I have now seen, his statement was accurate then as it is now. In over six hours of voluntary testimony, Mr. Kushner answered all questions put to him and demonstrated that there had not been collusion between the campaign and Russia. Lowell also disputed the idea that Kushner had not handed over all the

documents requested, instead creating this dispute about what documents were requested by the Judiciary Committee to begin with.

So all of this leads to speculation that, perhaps, Kushner is going to get asked to testify once more to clarify what's become a very complex, convoluted situation, Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez at the White House. We appreciate it. Thank you.

Now, earlier, I spoke to former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about Kushner's role in the Russia probe. We talked about accusations from the Senate Judiciary Committee that Boris just outlined, that Kushner failed to turn over e-mails related to WikiLeaks and an offer from a Russian back door overture to dinner meetings. Here is our conversation.


LEON PANETTA, FORMER DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: There seems to be a process in which individuals have, well, withheld information about their meetings with the Russians. They'd forgotten about those meetings with the Russians. They'd forgotten about having sat down and talked about the possibility of using WikiLeaks.

There's just been an awful lot of, you know, I would say bobbing and weaving here by a lot of the individuals involved. And so ultimately, we have to find the truth.

I am absolutely confident that we will find the truth. I'm a believer in the American system. I believe that the work of Bob Mueller and these committees will ultimately find the truth.

But it would be a hell of a lot easier if people would cooperate and tell the truth, rather than avoid taking a stand for what really happened here. The more we have to pull teeth, the longer this process is going to have to take.

CABRERA: I mean, we have to remind everybody that Kushner also had to amend his security clearance three times because he left off other meetings. But his lawyer has responded to this latest, I guess, complaint by the Judiciary Committee, saying that they have been responsive. They are open to any additional requests.

We know Kushner is new to government. Is it possible this stuff just slipped through the cracks?

PANETTA: You know, I think that, one way or another, we will get to the truth here.

There is not much question that these people just coming in with the administration like Kushner, you know, I think, in many ways, operated as if they were in the private sector, and that somehow they could avoid the requirements that both Congress as well as others placed upon them. And it's just not that way. [20:04:44] It makes better sense to always be honest and up front

about what you did because, ultimately, it will come out.

And so I think it's far better if Mr. Kushner as well as others involved with this campaign are honest and forthright about what happened. So that, ultimately, we can find out whether or not there was a conspiracy to work with the Russians, to be able to use that in interfering with our election process, and just how high up that conspiracy may have gone.

That is what we're looking for. That's what the effort of Bob Mueller as Special Counsel is all involved with. And I think that's what the Congress is interested in, is just exactly what is the truth, what happened here, what did the Russians really do, who supported them, and how can we avoid that happening in the future?

CABRERA: Real quick before I move to another topic. Have you seen anything that says conspiracy to you, so far, in terms of the evidence that has been laid before us?

PANETTA: You know, there are a lot of dots here.


PANETTA: There's a lot of indications that various people did a lot of meetings here. I think there is something like 30 contacts with the Russians that took place by individuals involved in the campaign. But I don't know whether those dots can really be connected.

And I think that's going to be the judgment that Bob Mueller is going to have to make as Special Counsel, is whether or not you can connect those dots and really prove that some kind of conspiracy took place.

CABRERA: I want you to put your chief of staff hat on since you served that role for former President Bill Clinton. His sexual indiscretions have been brought up again this week following these allegations against Senator Al Franken and, of course, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

I want you to listen to what Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it your view that the President Clinton should have stepped down at that time given the allegations?

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I -- yes, I think that is the appropriate response. But I think things have changed today, and I think, under those circumstances, there should be a very different reaction.

And I think, in light of this conversation, we should have a very different conversation about President Trump and a very different conversation about allegations against him.


CABRERA: Now, this was in an interview with "The New York Times." We know Gillibrand has been a Clinton ally. For her to say this, it's a big deal. Where do you stand on all this?

PANETTA: Well, you know, we're going through a period here where there are going to be a lot of allegations about sexual misconduct. Women are coming forth, as they should, and there will be a lot of charges that will be presented.

In the end, some will be prosecuted. Others will apologize. Others, frankly, will be determined by the judgment of the American people as to what should or should not be done. And I trust in their judgment.

My own judgment with regards to President Clinton is that he more than paid the price for what he did, the fact that he went through an impeachment process as President of the United States.

That the House of Representatives voted for Articles of Impeachment -- the Senate did not, but the mere fact that he went through an impeachment process as president means that there will always be a shadow on the legacy of his presidency. So at least from my point of view, I think he's more than paid the price.

CABRERA: If what happened then had happened now, though, do you think it would have ended differently for Clinton, this day and age?

PANETTA: You know, that's -- it's always hard to judge because I think, as Senator Gillibrand said, times have changed. We are in a different period now as a result of what's taken place.

So, yes, there are probably different standards that might be applied today as opposed to what would be applied 20 years ago or 30 years ago. But bottom line still remains that all of these matters are going to be judged, in large measure, by the American people.

And I happen to be one who believes in the common sense and fairness and balance of the American people. I think they'll make the right decision about whether or not somebody should be held responsible for the behavior that that person has engaged in.

CABRERA: Well, Secretary Panetta, again, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.

PANETTA: Thank you, Ana. And nice to be with you.


CABRERA: Tonight, former President Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, appeared before a friendly crowd in Arkansas to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his '92 election victory.

And during the Q&A, Hillary Clinton took the opportunity to respond to a tweet from President Trump today. [20:09:57] He wrote, Hillary Clinton is the worst and biggest loser of

all time. She just can't stop, which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life, and give it another try in three years.

Well, here is what Clinton said.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: My former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out. Apparently, there was another, somebody told me, tweet today. Honestly, between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done?


CABRERA: Well, both Clinton and the former president then addressed her loss to Trump one year ago and the scandals about Russian election meddling that persist.


CLINTON: And now we know that Russia was sending a lot of those messages on the internet. They were weaponizing information, stealing information, providing phony news. So there is reason to be disappointed and reason to feel like, you know, we didn't succeed and that's hard to live with, very painful.

But there is also a call to action. We cannot let our politics be turned into a fiction that benefits a very small minority of Americans.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a slight disagreement about this, about what really had happened. If the voters hadn't been told that the e-mails, the first e-mail, which is the most important issue since the end of World War II, I doubt if the FBI Director could have swung the election at the end.


CABRERA: Coming up, President Trump slams Senator Al Franken for sexual assault. And the White House denies it's hypocritical. Wait until you hear why.

Plus, the woman who has seen it all. A key member of Trump's inner circle about to face Robert Mueller's questioning. Can she help solve the Russia puzzle?


[20:15:56] CABRERA: The White House issuing a whole new standard for judging those accused of sexual harassment or assault. And when asked about the difference between the allegations against Senator Al Franken and the past allegations against President Trump, well, here is what Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.


CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: If it's fair to investigate Al Franken and the allegation made by his accuser, is it also fair to investigate this President and the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by more than a dozen women?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I think that this was covered pretty extensively during the campaign. We addressed that then. The American people, I think, spoke really loud and clear when they elected this President.

VEGA: But how is this different?

SANDERS: I think in one case, specifically, Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the President hasn't. I think that's a very clear distinction.


CABRERA: So to put it another way, Sanders is saying just take the President at his word. That's problematic because here's his word.


TRUMP: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. I just kiss. And I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH, NBC NEWS HOST: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the (INAUDIBLE).


TRUMP: You can do anything.


CABRERA: The same man who said that seized on this photo released by a woman who says Franken forcibly kissed her and groped her back in 2006.

The President tweeting, the Al Frankenstein picture is really bad. Speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures two, three, four, five, and six while she sleeps?

I want to bring in my panel -- CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Doug Heye; CNN political analyst and congressional reporter for "The Washington Post," Karoun Demirjian; and White House correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," Sarah Westwood.

So, Doug, what is the strategy behind the President weighing in on Franken's scandal? Doesn't this just call attention to the accusations he has faced? DOUGLAS HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. I think it's a


First off, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is wrong here in that Al Franken has not admitted any wrongdoing.

He has acknowledged the photo and then basically set up a he said/she said situation, where he says that Leeann Tweeden remembers things differently than he does. He hasn't admitted any wrongdoing. I think it's a --

CABRERA: He has apologized.

HEYE: He has apologized but he hasn't admitted really any wrongdoing. He says she misremembers it, or remembers it differently than he does. That's a difference.

But also, I think it's a mistake for the White House to wade in on Al Franken right here, unless they're going to wade in on Roy Moore, which they haven't done.

I think, counterintuitively -- at least for me, counterintuitively, I think the "Access Hollywood" tape gives Trump an opportunity to weigh in more Roy Moore and -- with a gravitas, so to speak, that others might not have because of those accusations.

Because that tape is out there, Trump speaking out against Roy Moore would carry more of a weight, more news with it, that would put a lot more pressure on Roy Moore. That's, obviously, what we haven't seen from the President and what a lot of Republicans would like to see.

CABRERA: Karoun?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, Al Franken had a second apology. The first one definitely is -- was as Doug put it. But the second one, he went into great detail where he said it's not funny, it's not acceptable, I'm embarrassed that I did those things. So that's pretty close to admitting wrongdoing.

The issue here --

HEYE: He still says she didn't remember it the way he did.

DEMIRJIAN: Right, right. I know --

CABRERA: As far as the pictures show, it's --

HEYE: He still said she's wrong.

DEMIRJIAN: I'm just trying to detail out that there is -- that he -- at the time, he doesn't remember the kiss being like that, but he is embarrassed about the photo.

Anyway, getting back to the President on this one, it's strange that you have the excuse of, you know, one person admits wrongdoing -- we can argue about how much of that was an admission or not -- and the other person doesn't being the standard here, basically.

Because you can say -- because that is basically the standard that would accuse Roy Moore as well. Even if he is not disputing -- yes, well, he is disputing several of the facts as "The Post' reported them, but he hasn't disputed the fact that he dated teenagers, right? And so that's -- and that is the fundamental core of what people are finding so shocking about all those revelations.

So in a way, it's kind of trying to make the -- give another excuse to the fact that what seems like is going on here is that the GOP does not want to point a finger internally. They would much rather to just point a finger across the aisle right now, and Franken has given them the opportunity to do that.

[20:20:08] Whereas before, when this story started, this was the Democrats piling on the Republicans, but as we now see, sexual assault does not really have -- it does not belong to one party or another.

CABRERA: It has no political barriers.

DEMIRJIAN: Exactly right. It's everywhere.

CABRERA: No, but -- and the other thing about it, though, is, if you recall, it wasn't just Democrats who were piling on the Roy Moore situation.


CABRERA: I mean, it was Republicans.


CABRERA: Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan --


CABRERA: -- leaders of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill who have come out with very strong words against Roy Moore.

The President hasn't even gotten close to going where they have gone, but we have seen the Trump move before, going back to, like, his situation compared to the Al Franken scenario.

And here is what Trump has said about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and former Congressman Anthony Weiner. Let's watch this clip.


TRUMP: I've known Harvey Weinstein for a long time. I'm not at all surprised to see it.

I know Anthony Weiner for a long time. I knew him before they caught him with the bing, bing, bing, right?

(LAUGHTER) TRUMP: And he was a bad guy then. It turned out that he was a really bad guy.


CABRERA: He has no problem speaking out against Democrats. Weinstein, a major Democratic donor. Weiner, obviously, a Dem, now in prison.

Sarah, let's remember, President Trump has defended other people accused of sexual misconduct, like Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes. Do you see a double standard here?

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, the reason why the White House didn't speak out on Roy Moore initially was believed to be because President Trump had a credibility issue when it comes to accusations of sexual assault because he had, himself, been accused of inappropriate conduct with women.

And so that was one reason why a lot of folks thought he didn't wade into the Roy Moore issue. And he sort of created a situation where his response came under scrutiny when he chose to weigh in on Senator Franken's situation.

If he had not said anything about the photograph that came out showing Franken groping a woman, then maybe it would be understandable his policy was silence on these -- both of these accusations coming out.

But because he chose to weigh in, personally, on one and not the other, he set himself up to come under this kind of scrutiny that he could have avoided by just not sending that one tweet.

CABRERA: Doug, I want to play GOP Senator Jeff Flake's hot mic moment from earlier today.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast.


CABRERA: So in case anybody missed that, he said, if we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are going to be toast. Do you, as a Republican, share Flake's concerns?

HEYE: Well, one of the things that I'm going to miss about Jeff Flake in the Senate is what he says in private is the same thing that he says in public. I not only share his view, I think there are a lot of Republicans who if -- who were opposed to Trump in the run-up to the nomination and didn't vote for him in November, who predicted that if we nominated and we -- and Donald Trump won, that what we would do is set a -- set and unleash a series of factors that would, ultimately, reelect Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker.

And what we saw in Virginia in the State House and State Senate races, obviously the governor's race, what we've seen in special elections, and now what we're looking at, possibly, in Alabama, is putting us to a place where next November could be electoral Armageddon for Republicans.

And the biggest fear Republicans could and should have is a Speaker Pelosi coming back to power. But that's the path that we'll put ourselves upon and that's exactly what Jeff Flake was talking about.

CABRERA: But just confirming, that's the path you go on if Roy Moore wins or loses?

HEYE: Well, if Roy Moore loses, it says Republicans have really nothing that they can hold on to at that point. That we are losing in the reddest of red states. It is a loss that we shouldn't be able to even fathom, and it demonstrates how difficult things are for Republicans right now.

And that's not just because Roy Moore is a terrible candidate. And let's be clear, Roy Moore is a terrible candidate. It's also because Donald Trump has been an albatross on Republicans electorally.

CABRERA: President --

DEMIRJIAN: I don't think that's fully Jeff --

CABRERA: Go ahead, Karoun.

DEMIRJIAN: Sorry. I don't think that's fully Jeff Flake's point, though. I mean, Jeff Flake has said he would vote for a Democrat over Roy Moore if he were in Alabama.

And right now, the issue is that the GOP has to kind of decide what it's going to do to reset its brand, right? That is what Flake's complaint is. It's what has Flake -- it's what his complaint was when he announced his retirement.

It's what other people like Bob Corker and John McCain have been saying for a long time, too.

They have to reset somewhere if they're going to be -- if they're -- if the people that are in Congress, the majority of the Republicans that are in Congress, are going to try to reclaim some of this mantel of what it is they stand for.

But that means making a lot of very difficult decisions. It means making decisions that are both policy decisions about where they're going to go with the President to give him a win and not.

And also, what they're going to do when these political things fall in their lap like Roy Moore. McConnell has said he thinks that they should start an ethics probe. There's an open question about, after they seat him, will they try to oust him?

And these -- I mean, you've seen the GOP rally around one position right now because they did -- most of them did decide to point a finger at Roy Moore and say that's not what we stand for. But how far will they take these things past the speeches --

[20:25:05] CABRERA: Yes.

DEMIRJIAN: -- in order to reclaim who actually owns the party? That is the big challenge in front the GOP between now and the 2018 elections.

CABRERA: And you talked about this ethics probe regarding Roy Moore.


CABRERA: Well, you could can say the same has been proposed regarding the situation with Al Franken. And we know that they haven't yet formally decided whether or not to launch an investigation into the allegations against Senator Franken.

But, Sarah, you report on Congress. What are you hearing from the top two members of the Ethics Committee, GOP Senator Johnny Isakson and Democratic Senator Chris Coons?

WESTWOOD: I think that there's not a lot of confidence that an ethics investigation will really do anything to Al Franken or anyone else who comes under investigation by that committee. Those investigations are notoriously without teeth.

They take a long time. They're opaque. There's not a lot of insight into what the committee is doing. And in a lot of instances, it's just a way to bureaucratize these accusations.

And sometimes, it's just a way to hit the pause button and just wait for the scandal to dissipate. In a lot of cases, that's exactly what happens, even if that's not the intent of just opening an ethics probe into the situation.


WESTWOOD: Particularly when the senator has all -- basically admitted guilt. There's photographic evidence of the incident. If no other women come forward, there's not a lot of reason to even perform an ethics investigation. That's, I think, the sentiment that a lot of people have.

CABRERA: Everyone, let's continue our conversation another day. We got to leave it there for now.

Doug Heye, Karoun Demirjian, and Sarah Westwood, thank you all.

HEYE: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, an influential player in Trump's inner circle about to be interviewed by the Special Counsel. Is Hope Hicks the key to all things Russia?


[20:31:08] CABRERA: Special counsel Robert Mueller's team is about to grill one of the top members of President Trump's inner circle.

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks has been there since the beginning of the campaign, has been in the room for some of Trump's most controversial decisions.

So the question now, can she help solve the Russian riddle for Mueller? CNN's Jessica Schneider reports.


TRUMP: She is really, really talented. Hope, say a couple --

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Hope Hicks never seems to be very far from the President's side. Thursday on Capitol Hill. At a state dinner in Japan last week. Inside the Oval Office.

Hicks is one of the only non-family members who has remained a critical part of Trump's inner circles since 2004 when the former model joined the Trump Organization. She was a key point person when Trump launched his campaign in 2015. And the 29-year-old is now White House communications director, working from a desk right outside the Oval Office.

TRUMP: The criminals that we send back --

SCHNEIDER: Hicks operates mostly behind the scenes, leaving the public statements to others. Her prime place on the President's team has made Hicks of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller's team plans to interview Hicks before the end of the month.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO ROBERT MUELLER: What this tells us is the investigation is moving at a steady pace. They're going from out to in, from less important to more important. I think she's still a witness, not a subject or target by any means, but she's got critical information that only she possesses.

SCHNEIDER: Sources tell CNN the Special Counsel is particularly interested in Hick's role drafting the initial and misleading statement from Donald Trump, Jr. about his meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.

That statement, drafted on board Air Force One, with input from the President, tried to downplay the significance of the meeting and failed to mention a promise the Russian lawyer would bring damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Hicks was also in Bedminster, New Jersey, days before the President fired FBI Director James Comey.

Sources tell CNN the President drafted a memo, along with top aide Stephen Miller, explaining the reasoning behind the firing but the letter was never sent. Mueller's team now has that letter. And the President revealed in an interview just after the firing that it was Russia related.

TRUMP: And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself -- I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.

SCHNEIDER: White House lawyer Ty Cobb wouldn't comment directly about Hope Hicks and when she will meet with the Special Counsel's team, only this. It is my hope and expectation that shortly after Thanksgiving, all the White House interviews will be concluded.

Mueller also plans to interview White House Counsel Don McGahn, who was also Trump's campaign counsel, and Jared Kushner's spokesman, Josh Raffel, who was also in Air Force One when the Trump Junior statement was drafted.

Hicks is being represented by Robert Trout, a former assistant U.S. attorney who represented President Richard Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell, during Watergate and Monica Lewinsky.

ZELDIN: He's going to tell her, remember, tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and protect yourself and nobody else.


SCHNEIDER: And Mueller's team has already interviewed former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. That was earlier this month. Right now, there's no clear indication how far along in the process the Special Counsel's investigation actually is.

CABRERA: Jessica Schneider, thanks for that.

Coming up, late-night comedians offer their take on "SNL" alum Al Franken and his groping scandal.


TREVOR NOAH, COMEDY CENTRAL HOST: Like if I saw Franken doing that in a supermarket, I'd be like, hey, leave that fruit alone!

If I saw him in Italy, I'd be like, get away from that tower, you creep!



CABRERA: The ongoing national discussion about sexual assault and harassment did not escape late-night comics this week, especially now that two of their own have admitted to inappropriate behavior.

Take a look at how comedians tackled "Saturday Night Live" alums Senator Al Franken's groping photo this week.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": You guys, Thanksgiving is less than a week away.

(APPLAUSE) FALLON: A lot of people are traveling, but here's a tip. Here's a tip. Before you get a pat down at the airport, make sure it's from an actual TSA worker and not a United States senator, OK? Just a little tip for you.


NOAH: That pose is its own crime.


NOAH: Like, if I saw Franken doing that in the supermarket, I'd be like, hey, leave that fruit alone.


NOAH: If I saw him in Italy, I'd be like, get away from that tower, you creep! You OK Pisa? All right, man.


SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": And she's wearing Army gear because it's a USO tour, but, honestly, who could blame women if they started wearing military gear whenever they're around men?

[20:40:01] Where are you going in a helmet and a flak jacket? The subway!


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": As a fellow comedian, I've long admired Al Franken.


COLBERT: You know, but I got to say, this does not bode well for Louis C.K.'s Senate hopes.



CABRERA: CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas is joining us now.

So, Chloe, there has been some debate about whether Franken was actually touching Leeann Tweeden in that picture --


CABRERA: -- but, you know, he initially said this was clearly meant to be a joke. Sounds like a lot of comedians say that's not so funny after all.

MELAS: So I have to tell you, Ana, that this is a really big deal and a really good thing that his former friends -- well, maybe still friends, but that his late-night hosts are calling out his behavior because this is showing everyone that the tides are turning.

They're not overlooking this behavior, even though Al Franken came out and said, hey, guys, this was supposed to be funny. This is --

CABRERA: And comedians aren't getting a pass.

MELAS: This was supposed to be a joke. Well, nobody is finding it funny. They're making light of it, but the -- but they're light of it because it's such a big deal, because there should be consequences for behavior like this.

And so the fact that Trevor Noah, and then you also have Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert talking about this? That's important because it's moving the conversation forward for everybody everywhere, not just in Hollywood or in politics.

CABRERA: And, of course, there's the Louis C.K. situation, too --


CABRERA: -- which has impacted the comedic world. Certainly, Sarah Silverman, who is friends with Louis C.K. --


CABRERA: -- had this to say. This was her reaction.


SARAH SILVERMAN, STAND-UP COMEDIAN: I love Louis, but Louis did these things. Both of those statements are true. So I just keep asking myself, can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them? I can mull that over later, certainly, because the only people that matter right now are the victims.


CABRERA: You know, clearly, this is hitting home for some of these people. That was a very sober moment.

MELAS: Yes, it is. And I've met Sarah Silverman, and she's usually, you know, very upbeat. So for her to take on this issue, especially when it deals with her good friend -- they've been friends for over 20 years.

And something that's interesting, Ana, is that she mentioned something that has been mentioned to me by friends of mine, saying, can I still like Louis C.K., or can I still like Kevin Spacey --


MELAS: -- for the things that they have done? Can I still watch their movies or watch their work? And it's a tough issue that everybody, not just Sarah Silverman, is having to grapple with now.

Do I, you know, stop respecting them as artists and not just as people? So it's like an internal struggle. And it's really interesting that she brought that up, so.

CABRERA: No kidding. That is interesting. Kevin Spacey, you've covered a lot on --


CABRERA: -- the allegations that he is facing, and you're learning of even more allegations. Tell us about this.

MELAS: Yes. So more explosive allegations against Kevin Spacey this week. So The Old Vic Theater, a very famous playhouse in London where Kevin Spacey was the artistic director for more than a decade -- well, The Old Vic Theater decided to launch their own internal investigation.

They hired an external law firm, and they found that there were over 20 -- well, there were 20 allegations of sexual misconduct by Kevin Spacey. Now, they don't go in to say what exactly happened, but only one of those incidents was reported to the theater during that time.

And they said that they're absolutely shocked, they're appalled, and they're taking the necessary steps to provide counselors and to make sure that things like this don't happen again. But they have condemned Kevin Spacey's time there.

And, you know, it's really upsetting but, again, Kevin Spacey has not responded to The Old Vic Theater accusations, nor the "House of Cards" and the CNN report that we put out there. Nothing. So we haven't heard anything from him.

CABRERA: Silence. You know, you brought this up a little bit earlier in terms of how do viewers, fans of some of these people, respond? Friends, even.

I'm curious if you're getting a sense of where this is heading for them when it comes to their professional futures. I mean, is there a professional future for any of these people, Kevin Spacey --


CABRERA: -- Harvey Weinstein? I mean, the gamut!

MELAS: I talk about this all the time. And it's a wide spectrum of what we're dealing with. You have Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey and then Louis C.K. So it's like different levels of really bad behavior --

CABRERA: The allegations that they are facing.

MELAS: -- these allegations.


MELAS: And I really think that, for right now, there's no coming back, career-wise, for any of them right now. The Hollywood is a very forgiving place, but I really don't think that Kevin Spacey and Weinstein are really going to have a seat at the table in Hollywood, if ever again.

And it's a really difficult situation that a lot of people are having to deal with because they almost feel like, every day, somebody else is coming out with a new allegation against somebody and that there's almost going to be nobody left in Hollywood, you know.


MELAS: So it's definitely a tough situation. But, you know what, these allegations coming out against so many people is actually a good thing because it shows that people are finding their inner strength to come forward and make -- find justice.

CABRERA: Sure. And the consequences that some are -- of them are now seeing also sends an important message to --

[20:45:02] MELAS: It definitely does.

CABRERA: -- to men and women alike.

Thank you so much, Chloe, for your ongoing reporting.

MELAS: Thank you.

CABRERA: We appreciate it.

MELAS: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, Anthony Bourdain serves up something very different this weekend -- a new film about America's first celebrity chef, Jeremiah Tower. I got a preview from both men, next.


CABRERA: Tonight, Anthony Bourdain looks into the story of the most famous chef you probably never heard. Here's a look at "JEREMIAH TOWER, THE LAST MAGNIFICENT."


[20:49:56] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the master of ceremonies. He was the ringmaster. And he enjoyed being someone who could play host to the gathering of rich and powerful and important or self-important people.

JERRY MATTEES, FORMER PATRON, STARS: It always amazed me that I know he spent a lot of time in the kitchen. And if he got splattered with some food, he'd go down and change. Because he'd come walking out around the crowd, shaking hands, saying hello, being Jeremiah, and always just looking so pristine.

MARTHA STEWART, FOUNDER, MARTHA STEWART LIVING OMNIMEDIA: Totally in control. And, of course, you love that. You wanted to see him. You wanted to see who was touching your food, who was making it, and who was directing the rest of the guys in the kitchen. I think Jeremiah was a celebrity chef. He was one of the firsts. ALEXANDRA TOWER EWERS, FORMER PATRON: It was like a conductor walking

through with an orchestra, and that's what he would do. And he usually had a glass of champagne in his hand. And if he didn't, somebody brought it.


CABRERA: I recently sat down with both Jeremiah Tower and Anthony Bourdain to get a preview of tonight's film. Watch.


CABRERA: This is sort of your brainchild, 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: 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, you know, 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 dining 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, you know, scene 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.

CABRERA: Were you ahead of your time?

JEREMIAH TOWER, ACCLAIMED CHEF: Oh, I think I was. I mean, I didn't -- you know, if I had been 20 years later, I'd be as rich as Wolfgang Puck, for instance.


TOWER: 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, oh, I'm changing the United States. I'm changing the restaurant business.

That moment when I did the California Regional Dinner in 1976 at Chez Panisse, that's the evening that the wine spectator said was the -- you know, the match that set the fire to the revolution. The -

BOURDAIN: Changed everything.

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


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


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

TOWER: Right. Right.

BOURDAIN: Villains, generals.



BOURDAIN: A definite high -- mix of high and low that, I think, really distinguished Stars and set it apart.

TOWER: Yes, that's right.

BOURDAIN: This was a place where you could --

TOWER: Right.

BOURDAIN: -- see politicians and, you know, a motorcycle gang in the same --


BOURDAIN: You know, at the same time.


TOWER: For the excitement, I just -- whatever came along.

I mean, there was a night when a homeless guy streaked naked through the dining room, and I stopped. And he saw me and stopped. And I handed him my glass of champagne, and then, you know, 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 was the first American celebrity chef, for sure. I mean, before Jeremiah, chefs were considered, you know, backstairs help. Service.

TOWER: Right.

BOURDAIN: You went in, you told that kitchen, you told the Maitre D' what you wanted, and they would get it for you. You -- the last thing in the world you wanted to do was hear from the chef, much less see the chef. TOWER: Right.

BOURDAIN: Jeremiah changed all that. And everybody, you know, Emeril, all of them followed.

CABRERA: Mario, right?

BOURDAIN: All of us have benefited greatly from what Jeremiah did at Stars.

TOWER: The shift occurred between Chez Panisse and Stars. I couldn't tell when the -- at Chez Panisse, I couldn't tell my grandmother I was working at a restaurant, that I was a chef. I mean, she would have disowned me.


BOURDAIN: So just --

TOWER: It was considered a disgrace.

BOURDAIN: It was considered a disgraceful profession.

CABRERA: Seriously?

BOURDAIN: It was something you did --

TOWER: Oh, yes.

BOURDAIN: -- like post-prison or in between, you know, carpentry or roofing jobs. If --

CABRERA: Well, then why even go into that career path anyway?

BOURDAIN: Because we couldn't do anything else.


CABRERA: I 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 with everyone saying, what's he doing next, you know.

[20:55:00] So I pulled a Greta Garbo, who said -- didn't say I want 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 as the future for you, Jeremiah?

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


CABRERA: More margaritas. More scuba diving.

TOWER: And I have a television show in development.

CABRERA: Oh, stay tuned.


CABRERA: Stay tuned. "JEREMIAH TOWER, THE LAST MAGNIFICENT" airs right here on CNN, next.

I'm Ana Cabrera. I'll see you back here tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Thanks for being here. Have a great night.