Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Jr. Refuses To Detail Conversation With His Father About Trump Tower Meeting With Russian Lawyer; Whistleblower: Flynn Suggested To Former Colleague That Russia Sanctions Would Be "Ripped Up". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 6, 2017 - 19:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: That's correct. All rights guys, thanks very much. That's it for me. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next, breaking news. Donald Trump Jr. questioned by lawmakers behind closed doors for more than eight hours today. Just getting out and refusing to talk about conversations he had with his father. We're going to speak to a member of Congress who was in that room questioning.

Plus, allegations that Michael Flynn tried to text with a business partner about a scheme to make a fortune working with Russia. Suggesting the Trump administration would rip up Russian sanctions. All of this allegedly on the day during Trump's inauguration.

And more breaking news, all eyes on Senator Al Franken. Is he about to step down? Let's go OutFront.

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news. Donald Trump Jr. testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, questioned by investigators behind closed doors. It was a marathon session of more than eight hours. Eight hours today. And it ended just moments ago.

Trump Jr. refusing to reveal a conversation between himself and his father. A conversation that happened after news reports surfaced about that crucial meeting in June of 2016 at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer. You'll remember the meeting, right? Trump Jr. took it because he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, and official documents that would incriminate Hillary, specifically.

According to Congressman Adam Schiff, who attended the hearing today, President Trump and Trump Jr. had a conversation after Trump Jr. produced the e-mails about the meeting at Trump Tower. You remember those e-mails, right? I've got them right here.

Will they had a meeting? But then Trump Jr. didn't want to provide any further details of his conversation with his father, the President, invoking attorney-client privilege. Now, that's a crucial part of the story. Trump Jr. though did provide some revealing details in that marathon session, saying he talked with top White House aide Hope Hicks about how to respond to reports about this Trump Tower meeting.

Remember flying home on Air Force One from a European summit last July, President Trump in consultation with Hicks, came up with a statement that Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer had quote, primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children. That statement, of course, turned out to be highly misleading.

And today when questioned about it, Trump Jr. said, oh, yes, he spoke to Hope Hicks about it, but not to his father. Which raises a lot of questions. Of course we know Hicks is also one of the President's closest confidants and is literally almost always by his side.

Manu Raju is OutFront tonight on Capitol Hill. And Manu, you know more than anyone what happened behind those closed doors today. Eight hours in American on testimony. What did Trump Jr. say about what is the heart of all of this, his conversations with his father, what his father knew and when?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, we know that he spoke with his father after the initial reports came out in The New York Times and after Donald Trump Jr. himself revealed on twitter these e-mail exchanges that he had about why he took this meeting. That he was promised dirt from the Russians on the Clinton campaign and that he was told that the Russian government wanted his father to win the presidency,

Now, when he had this meeting, we are told that Donald Trump Jr. testified today that he would not reveal any contents of this meeting with his father because of attorney-client privilege. He cites attorneys who are in the room during that meeting, which was why he would not discuss exactly what these two men had discussed about the Trump Tower meeting and the response to this when it was revealed by The New York Times.

Now, he did reveal speaking to Hope Hicks, via text message in the -- when he was initially confronted, that these reports were going to come out in The New York Times. And as you mentioned, Erin, those initial statements were misleading about why he took that meeting and it's significant, some legal experts say because there was a criminal investigation ongoing and perhaps the White House was involved in trying to mislead the public about why he took that meeting.

Now Erin, Republicans are, though, I said they were satisfied with Donald Trump Jr.'s response. Mike Conaway who is leading this investigation said he had answered all of our questions, but Democrats not satisfied. Adam Schiff wants to get more answers about that meeting with his father and why he's not disclosing this information.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Manu Raju. You know, going through these e-mails, you know, just remembering obviously the predicate of this entire meeting. The premise, right, was information that would incriminate Hillary Clinton to which Don Jr. had said I love it. Especially if it's later in the summer. OutFront now, Democratic Congress from California Jackie Speier. She's on the committee there with Donald Trump Jr. today for eight hours, that hearing just wrapping up. Congresswoman, good to have you with me. I appreciate it.

So Donald Trump Jr. took questions from you, your committee, for about eight hours. What's your take away?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: My take away is he has a serious case of amnesia.

[19:05:05] And he was pretty nonresponsive on a lot of issues that frankly, you would have a recollection of considering it was just a year ago that many of these events took place when Donald Trump was the candidate. He was, by his father's side, he was campaigning with his father. And you get the impression in listening to him that he didn't spend much time talking with his father.

BURNETT: So you say serious case of amnesia. It sounds like he said a lot of I don't recall or things about that?

SPEIER: I don't know. Yes. He did.

BURNETT: So, do you believe him or do you think he is hiding something?

SPEIER: I think it's really easy to say I do not recall and not really perjure yourself. Lots of people don't recall things. But I would say that there are elements of this where he was very clear and precisely what had happened and then other circumstances he didn't at all.

I think the overriding issue here is why does all the roads lead to Russia. Every business deal, every engagement. The engagement with WikiLeaks was all quite opaque in terms of how it all started. Why he was able to direct message with him. So it's -- there still a lot of pieces to this puzzle that we don't have the answers to.

BURNETT: Your colleague, Republican Peter King, has a different take on how things went in that room and you were both there today. He said Don Jr. satisfactorily answered the questions about that original misleading statement, right, in which it said the Trump Tower meeting with Russians was about adoption. Obviously, we know it was sold as dirt from the Russians. We have the -- we know that to be the case.

What do you say to Representative King having such a very different take away from you? He says he satisfactorily answered all the questions.

SPEIER: Well, he did answer many of the questions. I mean, I give Donald Trump Jr. credit for coming, being present, in answering questions. His legal counsel is there as well and for the most part, allowed him to answer questions. But in answering the questions, he oftentimes said I do not know.

Now, if he wanted dirt on Hillary Clinton and that's why he took the meeting, it was about trying to find way through Russian contacts --


SPEIER: -- to find an effort to undermine the election.

BURNETT: So, did you learn -- what would you say was the biggest thing you learned or you did not? The biggest frustration today from Don Jr.?

SPEIER: I think that we did not get clarification, particularly on the more recent conversations he had with his father about what took place back on June 9th of last year. Because it's unthinkable to me that he never had a conversation with his father about that meeting ever when we know that when then-candidate Trump won the Indiana primary and he said during that speech, we're going to have a major speech and there's going to be dirt on Hillary Clinton on the 13th of June and then that never took place. I really believe personally that there was an expectation that they were going to do a dump of information that he could then use in a sweep.

BURNETT: That's very interesting, right, the 9th versus the 13th. And before you go Congresswoman, I just want to ask you, you know, two weeks ago, you and I were talking on the show. You said you make -- might be ready to call for Senator Franken to resign. You were not quite there at that time.

Obviously today, more than 30 Senate Democrats have come out and made that call. Do you feel that you're there tonight or --

SPEIER: Without a doubt. I actually called for his resignation much earlier this week or late last week. I've gotten to the point where I recognize that there's typically one person comes forward, there's many more people and that's what we have seen over and over again. When there's a pattern -- when you have either severe or pervasive conduct of sexually harassing, those are grounds for I believe termination.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Congresswoman. I appreciate your time as always.

And now former Presidential Adviser to four presidents David Gergen and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Jeffrey Cramer. Jeffrey, let me start with us because -- what's your take away? You heard the Congresswoman. Eight hours of testimony.

Look, she's glad he showed up. He did answer some questions. But you heard her characterization he had a serious case of amnesia. Claiming attorney-client privilege, not wanting to talk about his conversations with his father. What's your take away?

JEFFREY CRAMER, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS: Well I think it's somewhat problematic. Not necessarily the attorney-client privilege. That can be gone through and determined if it's accurately represented or not. But now, it's on Hope Hicks. [19:10:04] And we're not sure. We don't think she's testified before Mueller or been interviewed by Mueller yet, but now that's the nexus (ph) that matters. What conversation did she have with the President.

And the reason this is important, you indicated this before in the setup, is this meeting matters. The context of this meeting matters. And so what the President knew at the time is important and a building block in any investigation.

BURNETT: And the time is so crucial, David, and you heard what the Congresswoman said. She's trying it hard to believe that they didn't have the conversation. And she's also pointing out the dates meetings on the night Trump had promised his big Russia speech on Clinton -- dirt on Clinton on the 13th. It didn't happen. She's saying I think he knew that there was this meeting and expected this information to come out.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Of course she did. The way this operation works is everything goes through central command and that's the President. And at this point, the candidate, and that sort of thing. And, you know, so I don't think there's any question that he knew. He was told by somebody, the question is who and what the conversation was.

I do want to go back to something that's very important fundamentally, his testimony today and that is invoking attorney-client privilege. If there was more than one other -- if the President plus more than one other or more in the room, or there were three people, four people in the room, you can't invoke attorney-client privilege in that situation.

I remember very clearly back in the Clinton days when we went through Whitewater, waiting on the attorneys to talk to President and Mrs. Clinton, before we, the rest of this cast (ph) to go in the room. They had to get rid of it because that's all going to be -- that would protect the attorney-client privilege.

BURNETT: So, right. So the question is can you really claim that.


BURNETT: I mean -- and Jeff, what about this point? This is all resting on him saying, you know, we didn't talk about this. Do you buy that or do you share the same skepticism that David and the Congresswoman share?

CRAMER: I'm a skeptical former prosecutor, so I think it's highly doubtful. There could be something that if they were represented by the same lawyers and there might be attorney-client there, but, you know, that's going to play itself out. Either he was or he's wasn't.

But to say that Donald Jr. didn't have direct conversation with his father about this really essential item, but rather went through Ms. Hope's, that's doubtful. But again, Mueller and his team are going to find that out when they talk to Hope Hicks. It's either yes or no. And as Hope Hicks goes in there, I don't think there's any doubt that Mr. Mueller is willing to indict for lying to the FBI, so you proceed at your own risk.

BURNETT: Right. But also I will say, you know, Hope Hicks may know whether she had a conversation, but she doesn't know whether Don Jr. and Donald Trump had a conversation or not, right? And she can't answer that definitively.

GERGEN: It's not just one conversation with Donald Trump. It's a whole series of conversation. They clearly went on. He wasn't going to run a campaign all hands off.

He was cleared right in the middle of everything. You know, and then people were scared of him. Of course they're going to talk to him.

BURNETT: So Jeffrey, what happens from here? Eight hours of Donald Trump Jr. What's next?

CRAMER: It's a grilling, but now we move on. And Mueller, his team, have certain individuals. They want to proceed. So put the Congress investigation to the side and just focus on Mueller and his building blocks.

As you look at that, you look at the information that was revealed today regarding Flynn and a whistleblower that came through earlier. I think that's a salient point going forward. There's a few more witnesses to talk to. And then you come to the fork in the road, whether you have enough elements to charge something criminally, in other words, in a federal court or you issue a report given to Congress and see if there's a congressional proceeding that might be appropriate.

BURNETT: Right. And obviously on that, you know, what that proceeding is that's where you have some saying whether that would be ever be impeachment. Thank you both in that point on General Flynn.

Breaking news on that. A whistleblower saying Mike Flynn suggested sanctions against Russia would be ripped up after Trump took office. And wait until you hear what the whistleblower says exactly happened. It's pretty stunning allegation.

Plus, Democrats quitting with Senator Al Franken to step down. You heard Jackie Speier on that list. Is he about to do it? And White House officials admitting Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has upended the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.


[19:17:45] BURNETT: Breaking news, Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was texting a business associate about getting rid of Russian sanctions and profiting by building nuclear plans with Russians. Now, this is according to a whistleblower's account released by Congressman Elijah Cummings, who is the Ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. According to this whistleblower, General Flynn texted a business associate that the Russian nuclear deal was, quote, good to go moments after Trump was sworn in on inauguration day. So just look at what you're seeing on your screen right there. You can zoom in and see right at the time this text was allegedly sent, 12:11 p.m. Flynn appears to be texting.

Let's go to Jessica Schneider now who has more on this breaking story. And Jessica, this whistleblower account could be the strongest evidence yet. The Trump administration was doing something it should not be doing with Russia, if this account is true.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It could be, Erin. So this whistleblower, he says that Michael Flynn was texting his business partner from his seat on the inauguration stage and that Flynn's message with was that U.S. sanctions against Russia would be, quote, ripped up as one of the administration's first priorities.

Now this whistleblower says that he talked to Flynn's business partner moments after that message and the business associate said it was the best day of his life because of Flynn's expressed instructions that the Middle East nuclear reactor deal was, quote, good to go. So, Erin, now Congressman Cummings is calling on the chair of the Oversight Committee to actually issue subpoenas so they can get to the bottom of this.

BURNETT: So, Jessica, now this is obviously a crucial whistleblower testimony, right? Or, you know, as he -- this whistleblower spoke to Elijah Cummings. There is though some he said he said now between the company and the individual that is alleged to have had this conversation with General Flynn and Congressman Cummings, right?

SCHNEIDER: Right. So after Congressman Cummings came out with this a little bit earlier today, the lawyer for the company of the business partner, he's denying all of these. And he even went so far to say in a statement that no member of the company received any communication in any form from General Flynn during the campaign, during the transition, during the inauguration. But Congressman Cummings after that statement came out, he cast some huge doubt on that because he says that General Flynn was actually an adviser to that company throughout the Trump campaign and it would have been odd for him not to have communicated.

[19:20:10] So that is the he said he said. And of course, Erin, all this plays into the fact that Michael Flynn did talk to the Russian Ambassador the same day that President Obama did imposed those sanctions on Russia in late December. Erin?

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica.

And OutFront now, the Former Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, General James Clapper, who of course was involved in this investigation as it began. General clapper, let me just ask you about this latest reporting, right. Congressman Cummings says he was told that within minutes, literally, these are his words, within minutes of President Trump taking the oath of office, 12:11 p.m., on inauguration day on the desk, Flynn was sitting there texting this business associate saying Russian sanctions were going to be ripped up. Talking about a deal, planning with Russia for nuclear reactors in the Middle East saying it was, quote, good to go. What do you make of this?

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, if it's true, it's pretty astounding. That-- I mean, at that point, at noon on the 20th of January, perfectly legitimate for the new administration to discuss sanctions. But, obviously, would cast a cloud on this. Is if there was a business communication here and I would suspect that Special Counsel Mueller is fully aware of this and of course, I think there are, would be a way to get to the bottom of this by recovering the texts from whoever the provider was.


CLAPPER: But if it's true, it's pretty astounding and I guess just kind of reenforces the legal challenges that confronting Mike Flynn.

BURNETT: And obviously, you know, they need to get to the bottom of it. Right now, there is this sort of he said he said. But, you know, when you use the word astounding, if it happened, what could it mean for Bob Mueller's investigation?

CLAPPER: Well, it probably I would guess, it's probably not new news to the Special Counsel because I'm pretty confident that they have a pretty full book on Mike Flynn and what he's done and some of his transgressions. So I would assume they would know about this. As I said, I think if it's true, of course it's just again, from an ethical standpoint, nothing else, just you just don't do that.

BURNETT: You know --

CLAPPER: Here he is, you know, at that moment, he was essentially the National Security Adviser to the President of the United States.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, it was literally moments after he was being sworn in. So certainly, I guess, find a text about policy in the sense of you're not, you know, in transition official anymore. But as you point out, astounding for what he chose to say and to whom he chose to say it if it happened.

Look, Flynn is now central to this. It brings this investigation into the Oval Office. You worked with Flynn for many years. You presided over his promotion ceremony to be a three-star general. Flynn of course worked for you and President Obama eventually chose to fire him.

President Trump has been sticking by General Flynn even after firing him, even through recent days. Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media. This man has served for many years. He's a general. He's, in my opinion, a very good person.

I feel badly for General Flynn. I feel very badly. He's led a very strong life and I feel very badly.


BURNETT: Do you agree with President Trump and his characterization about General Flynn?

CLAPPER: Well, I think it's kind of a mixed bag. I think you have to recognize Mike's 34 years of service in the army as a soldier and as an intelligence officer. He had a lot of deployed time in Iraq and Afghanistan. I know four or five years, something like that, it's a lot.


CLAPPER: And so you have to acknowledge that. And when he -- I did, it was a cold fish and that is promotion ceremony and he worked for me on my staff for about 11 months, did fine. Moved to DIA and things for lots of reasons didn't work out. And so we relieved him essentially a year early.

I think after that, he changed. I know I think General Mark Hertling had a good characterization, maybe a combination of hovers (ph) and anger. And I think what I observed I didn't have any contact with him other than two telephone conversations during the transition period.

[19:25:01] But I do think he changed and I think Mike was always kind of an envelope pusher, kind of pushed the rules to get the job done. Certain amount of that is OK. But I think being propelled into the heady reaches of working to work with the president-elect and later the president, and serving as national security adviser and all that, I think may have given him license or felt he had license to push the envelope and he certainly did.

BURNETT: And I want to ask you about Don Jr. as well today. Donald Trump Jr. testifying, it was eight hours of testimony. I don't know if you heard Congressman Jackie Speier, but she was just on saying he said I don't recall. I don't remember. She said he had a case of amnesia. But he did answer.

Look, he was there for eight hours and he did show up and he did take questions. He is refusing to tell House investigators what he and his father talked about when it comes to that meeting in Trump Tower, that crucial meeting, right, where he had been promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Congressman Speier was bringing up the fact that just days after that meeting, the President had scheduled that he was going to have this big speech detailing all of this dirt he had on Hillary Clinton. Obviously, he didn't do that. She says it's because President of the United States now President, knew about this meeting, thought he was going to get dirt and have it for the speech. Do you believe that? Do you think he knew about this meeting and knew the Russians were going to give this information?

CLAPPER: Well, two comments here, Erin. First, there does seem to be pervasive case of amnesia that pervades a lot of people in this administration. Secondly, what I've observed of President Trump, he gets into the details and it's hard for me to believe that he wasn't fully aware of all these meetings and engagements. I don't know that for a fact, but I'm just as I analyze it or assess it from just watching, it's hard for me to believe that he wasn't fully cognizant of all these developments.

And certainly, and just to get back to Mike Flynn, I don't think Mike was doing this as a lone wolf or doing it on his own without oversight or direction at some sort from others in the campaign.

BURNETT: All right, which obviously is a crucial point to see where this goes next. Now, but of course, it has come into the Oval Office (INAUDIBLE) Mike Flynn. Thank you so much, Dr. Clapper. Appreciate your time as always, sir.

CLAPPER: Thanks.

BURNETT: And next, dozens of Senator Al Franken's colleagues, at least 30 now, Democrats in the Senate, pressuring him to quit immediately. Another accuser has stepped forward, but he has not done so, at this hour.

And anger among African-American voters in Alabama. Could they actually give Doug Jones the win over Roy Moore?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that he's not a white supremacist, he's a racist.



[19:31:00] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Breaking news: Senator Al Franken facing new and growing calls to resign amid sexual misconduct accusations. Just hours from now, the embattled Democrat is holding a news conference about his future as today, more than 30 fellow Democratic senators, including the Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, came out calling for Franken to resign, right?

There had been sort of a giant wall of silence, and then today, a cacophony. This as the sixth woman has accused Franken of misconduct, claiming he tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006. Unlike the other accusers, Franken has said this one is absolutely not true.

But Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says enough is enough.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Obviously, there were new allegations today and enough is enough. We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable, and we as elected leaders should absolutely be held to a higher standard, not a lower. I do not feel that he should continue to serve.


BURNETT: MJ Lee is OUTFRONT tonight on Capitol Hill on this very quickly developing story.

I mean, MJ, this would be a huge thing, right? You have a sitting senator resigning over this. Will Franken listen to his leagues and resign?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Erin, at this point, it's difficult to imagine Franken doing anything but to resign. The dam has clearly broken and the majority of his Senate Democratic colleagues believe that it is time for him to go. And so, it's very tough to imagine him going against his party and insisting on staying.

But all of that having been said, his office is saying this evening that a decision has not yet been made. This is what was posted to Senator Franken's Twitter account this evening. Senator Franken is talking with his family at this time and plans to make an announcement in D.C. tomorrow. Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate.

Now, just to give you a quick take of what has been going on behind the scenes, I am told today that a number of female Democratic senators have been talking amongst themselves about what to do about Franken for a number of days now, and, of course, they became increasingly frustrated and decided to make this announcement today.

Other members have been in direct conversations with the senator today as well, including Amy Klobuchar, the fellow Minnesota Democrat who said in a statement that she believes that he will do the right thing. We will find out the answer to that tomorrow -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you, MJ. I appreciate it.

And now, former communications director for the Democratic National Committee, Maria Cardona, and former senior adviser to the Trump campaign, Jack Kingston.

Maria, he doesn't have a choice at this point. I think we all know that, right? The tide has turned. The dam is broken as MJ so aptly put it.

But he has not yet brought himself to do it. Denying that he's there yet, just kind of delaying doing it.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, I think that is exactly what brought these Democratic women to the action that we saw today, Erin. And I've just got to say, I am so proud of them and so proud of the Democrats that they came to this decision. It was high time that this happened. And it wasn't an easy one as you can imagine.

Al Franken is their dear friend. Al Franken is their colleague that they have worked so hard with on so many issues to help America's working families. So, this was an incredibly difficult decision for them to come to.

But as MJ was reporting, there were also extremely frustrated as woman after woman kept coming out and they saw a completely unacceptable pattern. They tried to give him the time and space to do the right thing on his own, but it was finally -- as Senator Gillibrand said, enough was enough. And they had to come out and make a statement.

And I am so happy that Democrats are finally cleaning their own house. They are again, as Gillibrand said, drawing a line until the sand, going into the 2018 midterm elections with this issue on their side so it can be a very stark contrast with what we are seeing today in the Republican Party.

BURNETT: All right. So, let's talk about what we're seeing today in the Republican Party, Jack, because there's some grim things here going on in Alabama. Look. If Al Franken goes and he's going to go, all right? Let's go out there on the limb here, Jack. He's going to go.

And let's just say the Democrats are being strategic here. Let's say that they say you know what, we can't risk Roy Moore winning and say to the GOP, got to kick Roy Moore out if we're not kicking out Al Franken.

[19:35:07] So, Al, you got to go.

Is it possible that's the thought here, Jack?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. If I was the Democrat Party, I would do the same thing. I would say we've got a Democrat governor in Minnesota. We've got a state that led leans Democrat anyhow. We have our lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, who actually doesn't want to run for the Senate. She can hold the seat until special election then would have a level playing field for a bunch of Democrats.

So, frankly, I don't think the Democrats are going out on a limb at all, and we don't know even know what they found out on the Ethics Committee. We know publicly three women have come out and three have come out without disclosing their names. So, there could be ten more out there.

So I have to say to Maria, I think it's a good strategy, but I don't think it's any big brave going out on a limb move. I think it's very political.

BURNETT: All right. But here's what's happened, Jack.

KINGSTON: But I think it's a good one, let me say that.

BURNETT: So, let's square the circle, though, because you have Democrats now coming out and saying Al Franken, you know, who groped women, grabbed their behinds, at these photo opportunities, that he's got to go and you have Roy Moore, you know, who some leaders in your party had said had to go because he allegedly abused teenage girls, including one who was underage, pedophilia, and yet -- and yet people in your party who said this was unacceptable are now actually saying, OK, it's fine. Let me play it.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm going to let the people of Alabama make the call. The election has been going on a long time. There have been a lot of discussion about it. They're going to make the decision a week from Tuesday.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: I've learned long ago that voters don't want to be told from Washington who to vote for. I've made my position clear on Mr. Moore. But again, it's not up to me or the president. It's up to the people of Alabama.


BURNETT: Jack, if Roy Moore wins, doesn't the GOP have to expel him? I mean, if you look at what the precedent set here by Democrats?

KINGSTON: I think him staying in the race is a gift to the Democrat Party. If he wins, it's a double gift because they will be able the make him an issue over and over again.

So, I think -- I have to commend the Democrat Party right now. This is a good chess move for them to make.

I think the argument for Roy Moore which I understand people might not agree with, the argument for him is the sins that he committed were a long time ago. They're not recent. So, if I as a person can say I forgive him for that, he's changed, he's been under voter scrutiny for decades since the last offense, I believe he's a different person.

But I also believe that the values that he represents for me, he's pro-choice, he's pro-gun, he's pro-conservatives on the support. I don't necessarily like him as an instrument, but he still gets me where I want to go in my government.

That's a philosophical discussion. But I think the Democratic Party right now is being pragmatic and I commend them for it.


CARDONA: You know what else we're doing, Jack, aside from being pragmatic or as like you say, strategic? We're also doing the right thing. The GOP should try it sometime.

BURNETT: I remember how well y'all did with Barney Frank and how --

CARDONA: Especially these days when the person of the year for "TIME" magazine are the silence breakers who are -- let me finish, Jack. Who are coming out against their abusers, against a culture that hopefully we are at a tipping point, but that will all depend on what Republicans do with their Roy Moores and frankly, with their Donald Trumps, who is a self-professed sexual abuser -- KINGSTON: Maria, OK --

CARDONA: -- and you guys look the other way and you elected him and you are about to look the other way to elect Roy Moore.

BURNETT: OK, Jack, final word because Maria had the first. Go ahead.

CARDONA: The women of America are speaking and you guys are in a bad point on this.


KINGSTON: Maria, it's my turn, please. I just want to say, you've changed since Barney Frank and Gerry Studds and Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton himself. I'm glad to see this born again attitude of the Democrat Party. Maybe there will be some other issues that we can get together on --

CARDONA: Where's the Republican Party and the family values, you know? The evangelicals are supporting Roy Moore will scream holy hell because they have to bake a cake for a gay couple?


BURNETT: Finish your sentence.

KINGSTON: We have shown with people like Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley and John Ensign, that we will discipline our own and we are going to do that.

I think we are in a dilemma on Roy Moore. Let me, you know, say that upfront. I think it's a very difficult decision for the voters of Alabama.

I have counted the outline of the case for Roy Moore, but I actually would I'm going say this, Maria. Not just to struck the pot on the way out the door. If not for Roy Moore, I believe Al Franken would not be having the problems, he would not be having these problems for resignation. It hits him strategically because why weren't you doing it --

CARDONA: You're about to welcome a child pedophile to the senate.

BURNETT: That's an interesting point.

[19:40:00] Is it a one for one? Is it a one for one? Of course, you know, look to many Washington --


BURNETT: Thank you all both very much.

And next, Roy Moore's challenger fighting for his political life. Can he win? Well, there's one group that could put him over the top. Will they go to the polls? African-American voters. The inside story. And President Trump taking heat for his gamble, recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. And White House officials tonight admitting the move has derailed the peace process.


BURNETT: Roy Moore's opponent in the Alabama Senate race is fighting for his political life tonight. Doug Jones is holding a rally at this hour. We are obviously just a few days away from this crucial election that the whole world is watching.

Roy Moore, the opponent, faces multiple allegations, as you know of sexual misconduct, including with underage girls, allegations which Moore denies. Now, the group that could decide who wins though is African-American voters in Alabama, and it's all going to come down to turnout.

Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT.


[19:45:01] ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Alton Smith (ph) and Laura Oliver volunteer going door to door for Doug Jones in this predominantly African-American suburb of Birmingham.

At the first house, Oliver meets Wrennada Thomas (ph), who plans to vote for Jones next week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's who I'm voting for. So --

MARQUARDT: If Jones is to stand a chance of winning, he needs every vote he can get, particularly among African-Americans. A monumental task requiring black voters to make up a share of the electorate along the lines of their turnout in Barack Obama's last election, 28 percent.

But this is a special election, in an off year in mid-December.

Randal Woodfin was just sworn in as mayor of Birmingham.

RANDALL WOODFIN, MAYOR OF BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA: It's a challenge, but I think it's a worthy fight. And what I mean by that is there are six days before this election. You can't discount the last six days. There's work to be done. There's work already being done. And miracles happen.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Do you think it would take a miracle for Jones to win?

WOODFIN: I think miracle would work. I think there's a balance here.

MARQUARDT: What more does Doug Jones need to do to galvanize this base of support that he so badly needs?

WOODFIN: I would tell Doug Jones the same thing I would tell any candidates six days out. Don't stop working. Keep knocking on doors.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Black voters are around a quarter of the total electorate, but the majority of Democratic voters.

Roy Moore's base is overwhelmingly white. Many African-Americans accuse him of being a racist. Moore has said he doesn't believe Obama was born in America and that Representative Keith Ellison, a Muslim, shouldn't be allowed to serve in Congress.

Then this.

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Then it started to create new whites in 1965. And today, we've got a problem.

MARQUARDT: 1965 was the year the Voting Rights Act was passed, banning racial discrimination.

RICHARD DICKERSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: This is a man who said the country was better off when black people weren't allowed to vote.

MARQUARDT: Democratic strategist Richard Dickerson believes Jones could be doing more to energize black voters, but says Moore's past will help galvanize them.

DICKERSON: If not a white supremacist, he's a racist, and I think that he has shown that on time and time again, by both word and deed and his actions.

MARQUARDT: Jones is best known for his case as a U.S. attorney against two members of the Ku Klux Klan convicted of the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, that left four young black girls dead. John Knight, the head of Alabama's Legislative Black Caucus, says that isn't necessarily registering with African-American voters.

JOHN KNIGHT (D), STATE REPRESENTATIVE: A lot of the young voters just are not familiar with that. But I think that many are asking what are you going to do for me today? I mean, that's the kind of thing I pick up across the state as we go around.

MARQUARDT: And go around, they are, now with less than a week to go.

KNIGHT: We're going to the churches. We're going to the places that we know the voters are located. We got to have everybody in place to do what's necessary to get him elected in this seat.


MARQUARDT: And, Erin, Doug Jones is speaking right now at an even geared towards women, of course, another crucial voting bloc. It's part of what the campaign is calling Women's Wednesday. The campaign clearly is trying to capitalize on these allegations of sexual assault against Roy Moore, something we have also seen in the ads that they have been rolling out.

As the mayor of Birmingham told me earlier today, Jones used to get in front of as many people as possible, shake as many hands as possible, 24 hours a day until this election next Tuesday -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Alex.

And also tonight, two senior White House officials admitting to CNN that Trump has temporarily derailed the Middle East peace process. This after Trump has been met with worldwide condemnation for announcing the United States will now recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that he plans to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Trump touting his announcement as something other presidents promised to do, but, of course, failed to actually do and only he was the one who had the courage to step up to the plate.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering. Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel's capital.

This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It's something that has to be done.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer.

And, Ambassador, good to have you back on the show.


BURNETT: Look, I know this is the day you have wanted for a very long time and I know it matters a lot to you. So, that is important. But, of course, the situation that we're seeing now is crucial. The State Department warning of violence because of the move, leaders from countries throughout the region, across Europe, warning of violence, Palestinians calling for three days of rage.

A crucial question for you tonight, Ambassador. Are you willing to accept violence and the b possible death of Israelis in exchange for getting what you have so long desired?

[19:50:01] DERMER: Well, obviously, we never want violence, Erin, and our security forces do what's necessary in order to control the situation on the ground.

We understand the risks in any move that you have and that's why we're prepared to deal with them. And, obviously, the president understands those risks as well. He thought that this decision was in the interests of the United States and also in the interests of advancing peace.

I know that before you showed the segment, you said that there were senior White House officials who said this derails the peace process. I want to just read you very briefly a statement from the Israeli prime minister.

In Israel, we all agree on one issue, the wholeness of Jerusalem, the continuation of its existence as capital of the state of Israel. There are no two Jerusalems. There is only one Jerusalem. For us, Jerusalem is not subject to compromise and there is no peace without Jerusalem.

Now, the prime minister of Israel who made those comments, that's not the statement of Prime Minister Netanyahu, that was the statement of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin two days after the Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed 22 years ago.

So, I think those who do not think this does not advance peace are wrong. I think the president was right. He did a historic thing today, something I think will echo for generations to come.

BURNETT: All right. So, let's just get to that point, though. Obviously, as I said, two senior White House officials are telling CNN that this decision has temporarily derailed the peace process. As you know, Ambassador, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas saying Trump's announcement means the United States has completely withdrawn, completely withdrawn its role in mediating the Middle East peace process.

DERMER: Look, I think the only one who's withdrawn from the peace process has been the Palestinians who have avoided negotiations for years with Israel because they expected Israel to be delivered by the international community on a silver platter.

I think what the president has done today in this important historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital has said, listen, you guys just can't wait on the outside and hope that Israel is going to be delivered to you. You have to recognize realities. Israel exists. Jerusalem is our capital. The United States recognized it.

Anyone who thinks, Erin, that this actually undermines peace would have to say that they somehow think there will be peace in the future where Jerusalem would not be Israel's capital. Now, that's not going to happen. So, I think he has --

BURNETT: Well, it's also a matter of what comes first. I mean I was actually with you once in Jerusalem, with Prime Minister Netanyahu, right? Jerusalem, you have treated it as your capital. It has in so many ways been a reality.

But as you know, words, pomp, circumstance, matter. They matter a lot. I mean, three top administration officials, this is separate from the peace process, tell CNN not only did Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis think this was a bad move, but his favorite cabinet member, one of the favorite cabinet members of the president, the CIA Director Mike Pompeo, also said this was the wrong move.

DERMER: Well, I don't know if that's true.

BURNETT: Does any of this give you pause?

DERMER: I don't know if that's true, but I know that the senior member of President Truman's cabinet, Secretary of State George Marshall, a World War II hero, somebody who was responsible for the Marshall Plan of rebuilding Europe, he was also against the decision of President Truman to recognize the newly established state of Israel. I mean, he was vehemently opposed to it.

So, if President Trump went against the recommendation of some of his senior officials, that just makes it more impressive and more of an act of courage from my point of view that he has stood up alone against most of the leaders, virtually all of the leaders of the world, and he has made the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. And we are deeply grateful. The prime minister of Israel, this one, Prime Minister Netanyahu, said that both the Jewish state and the Jewish people will be eternally grateful.

And from Truman to Trump, we haven't had a decision that is quite this significant.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, because you're talking about the president having the courage to make this move. A lot of it depends on how well he really understands this problem then personally to go against the advice of so many.

I want to play a clip for you, Ambassador, that no doubt you are very familiar with. Some of our viewers may not be, from when President Trump visited Israel earlier this year. You were in the room with him and I just want to play it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We just got back from the Middle East. We just got back from Saudi Arabia. We were treated incredibly well.

We just got back from the Middle East. We just got back from Saudi Arabia. And we were treated incredibly well.


BURNETT: That is you, Ambassador, on the right-hand side. You know this, obviously, appearing to cover your eyes as Trump says while he is in Israel, right in the heart of the Middle East, that he just got back from the Middle East.

Look, I'm making a serious point here. Do you have confidence that President Trump is making this historic and consequential decision with a true understanding of what he's doing?

DERMER: Absolutely, and the clip that you just played, Erin, the funny thing about it is that a helicopter had landed a few minutes before, blew dust in my hair, my kippah off my head, and that's all I was doing in that clip.

[19:55:03] I know it was the stuff of late night comedies, but that was ultimate fake news.

I have confidence in the president of the United States because what the president has done has just put a dagger in fake history, that the Jews have no claim to Jerusalem, no history in Jerusalem.

UNESCO says the Jews have no history in Jerusalem. The U.N. Security Council met and I remember all the people around the table applauding a decision that essentially says that the Western Wall, the Western Wall which has stood for over 2,000 years, that the Western Wall's occupied Palestinian territory. That's a blow to peace.

What President Trump said by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, that actually lays a foundation of peace because it is based on truth and fact, and we appreciate greatly what the president has done.

BURNETT: All right. Of course, obviously, not the view of the Palestinians today, but we will see what happens from here. Ambassador, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

DERMER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next on a much lighter note, Jeanne Moos on the president's speech today. It wasn't just what he said about Jerusalem, it is how he said it.


BURNETT: Trump's sniffles, they're back. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It didn't take a nose for news to sniff out this story.

TRUMP: The status quo, both sides, acceptable, a lasting peace agreement.

MOOS: We're all in agreement this was a case of deja vu sniffing.

TRUMP: Does that work?

MOOS: President Trump has done it before, most notably during a debate with Hillary that inspired compilations.

It was dubbed the sniffening, complete with a mock-up make sniffs great again hat that "SNL" mockery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was picking up somebody sniffing here.

MOOS: Back then, theories ranged from allergies to chronic sinusitis, to medications that cause sniffling. He has anxiety suggested a psychologist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, we have snifflegate.

MOOS: But now, snifflegate has given way to slur gate --

TURMP: Political and religious --

MOOS: Because about 11 minutes into his Jerusalem speech, the president blew a blessing.

TRUMP: And God bless the United States.

MOOS: Twitter chattered, Trump's dentures are trying to escape his mouth. But he's not known to wear dentures. It sure reminded us of the dry mouth he experienced also 11 minutes into another speech.

TRUMP: The core principles of fairness --

MOOS: That time, he had to reach for a bottle of water. A White House official would say only the president is perfectly healthy.

The slurring gave the "Daily Show" a memorable ending for Trump's best words of 2017 video.

TRUMP: And God bless the United States. I have the best words, but there's no better word than stupid.

MOOS: A little dry humor, make that dry mouth, is nothing to stiff at.

TRUMP: And strong.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

TRUMP: Human soul.

MOOS: New York.


BURNETT: And thanks for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere on CNN Go. You always have to find humor in something. Enjoy the evening.

"AC360" with Anderson begins right now.