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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

CNN Sources: President Trump's Lawyers Anticipate Mueller; Report: President Trump Keeps Light White House Schedule. Aired on 8- 9p ET

Aired January 8, 2018 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:12] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

Tonight, President Trump's legal team is bracing for the big one, the moment when Russia special counsel Robert Mueller says he'd like a word or two on the record with the president.

Now, the last time something like this happened was in 1998. President Clinton, he lied to Ken Starr's grand jury and it obviously did not end well.

This would not, however, be the first time for President Trump. As a private citizen, he gave plenty of testimony, not all of it the whole truth or even close. We'll talk about that tonight.

This weekend he said he is a genius, a very stable genius, in fact. We'll have more on that.

Also, the damage control over the Michael Wolff book continues, including Steve Bannon now backing away from some of what he's quoted as saying in the book, as well as the (INAUDIBLE) defense offered by one of the president's top advisers to Jake Tapper on Sunday, he then refused to leave when asked and was escorted out the studio by security.

It was that kind of a weekend and it is still only Monday.

We begin with CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger who has the Trump/Mueller story.

So, what are your sources telling you about a possible interview between the special counsel and President Trump?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, lawyers for Donald Trump are anticipating they're going to get this request for an interview, as one might expect. And there have been no substantive discussions on the matter yet. But his attorneys, as you would also expect, have been talking about this amongst themselves for months about how they would handle any requests from the special counsel to talk to the president, because as you can imagine, Anderson, they're going to try to put as many parameters around it as they possibly can to try to protect their client.

COOPER: What limits could the legal team impose? BORGER: Well, they can ask -- they can ask. It is not clear what

Mueller would say to them. But they can say look, does this have to be under oath, for example? Can you give us written questions to which we would reply with written answers as happened with Ronald Reagan and Iran Contra? Does this have to be recorded? Can we have an informal interview rather than a formal interview?

So, there are all kinds of things they're thinking about. They're looking at precedent, at Reagan, at George W. Bush, with Iraq. So, they're trying to kind of look at all these things and say, well, how can we respond to what is going to be an inevitable request from the special counsel?

COOPER: Has the president's legal team spoken on the record about this?

BORGER: Yes. Well, they have and they have very little. Ty Cobb, who has been representing -- who is the internal special counsel for the president inside the White House said this today. He said: For the record, the White House does not comment on communications with the office of special counsel out of respect for the OSC and its process. The White House is continuing its full Cooperation with the OSC in order to facilitate the earliest possible resolution.

And, Anderson, you know, they would like the get this over with as quickly as possible. And you know, you mentioned Bill Clinton earlier. They went through months of litigation on this and they finally wound up with Clinton before a grand jury.

And I don't think that is what Trump's lawyers want at all. I think they would rather get this over as quickly as possible and try to find a way to accommodate what Mueller wants with what they believe would be in the best interests of their clients and get it done.

COOPER: All right. Gloria, stay with us.

I want to bring in the legal reinforcements. Jeffrey Toobin, Carrie Cordero, and professor Alan Dershowitz.

Professor, if you were advising the president or his team, what would you advise them about this?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, the dread would be if he got a subpoena to appear in front of the grand jury. No lawyer present. No opportunity to know the questions in advance. Donald Trump unscripted, uncontrolled.

COOPER: That's the last thing you want a client -

DERSHOWITZ: The lawyer's nightmare, an uncontrolled Donald Trump in a grand jury room.

They'll do anything to avoid that. He's not going to plead the Fifth. So, he has to answer the questions. So, they'll accept anything short of that, interrogatories, questions, written questions, maybe an informal interview. But remember, if you lie to a law enforcement official, even not under oath, that's a serious federal crime.

So Mueller has the leverage here, the legal leverage because he can threaten the grand jury subpoena. But what I think ultimately they would prefer, the defense attorneys, is to make all kinds of proposals for Mueller and then Mueller turn them down and not invoke a grand jury subpoena so they can then say well, we offered to cooperate but Mueller didn't accept it.

I don't think that's going to happen. I think there's going to be a compromise or else he'll be called in front of a grand jury.

COOPER: Jeff, how do you see this in terms of, you know, how much leverage they have?

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think both sides have a lot of leverage. I mean, obviously, as Alan said, there is the possibility of a grand jury subpoena but that could lead to months of litigation.

[20:05:04] You know, I think the Trump is at less risk than most people think here because of the unique circumstances of these kinds of questioning. I mean, Anderson, you have interviewed Donald Trump. We have all seen him answer questions.

When you ask him a question, he will talk for 40 minutes in response. And he, in the grand jury or in any of these circumstances, there's no judge to tell him to stop. So, I think whatever circumstances he winds up in, he is just going to filibuster. He is going to talk about what he wants to talk about. He's going to say there was no collusion over and over again.

And I think it's going to be very difficult for Mueller and his team to pin the president down. He's testified many times. And I think he is at less risk than perhaps Alan does under these circumstances.

COOPER: Although -- I mean, Carrie, to Jeff's point, you know, every lawyer I've ever talked to, if you're going to testify, tells you, just answer the question. Be as brief as possible. Don't elaborate on things.

To Jeff's point, if he does elaborate on stuff, isn't that a danger for the president?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think there's a danger for the president and also a danger, sort of a legal risk, for other individuals who have already been interviewed by the special counsel's office who might be campaign aides or individuals who work in the White House.

When he does end up having to conduct an interview with the special counsel's office, the question with respect to whether he tells the truth and whether or not his statements are truthful will have an effect. Not only as to whether or not he then is liable in some way for giving false statements to investigators, but also his statements will be compared to information that others have given.

So those statements will be compared. And so, his truth telling is important, not just for him but as well as for others.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, professor, Tim O'Brien was sued by Donald Trump when he was a citizen. He was working at "The New York times" at that point. And they deposed Donald Trump. According to Tim, a number of inconsistencies, false statements came out in the president's deposition.

When President Clinton testified, he was allowed, if memory serves me correct, to be in his lawyer's office. It was done by remote and his lawyers were actually present. So, those are the kind of things they can negotiate.

DERSHOWITZ: They can negotiate those kinds of things, but I do think that any president who goes on and on and on raises the odds that he'll say something that's not true. Now, he's been deposed. But you know, you don't normally get indicted for lying under deposition. You should. People should be indicted for lying in a deposition but they're not.

But if you're the president of the United States, every line will be scrutinized. He doesn't know what other people have told Mueller. And so, he will be surprised by some of the questions. And he will have to spontaneously answer.

Now, if he's in a grand jury, he can say, time-out. I don't want to answer that question. I want to talk to my lawyer and get advice.

But knowing Donald Trump, is he going to do that? Or is he going to just go ahead and answer the questions?

If I'm a lawyer, I want control over my client. But anything they do will be an attempt to get control over the situation.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

COOPER: Gloria, go ahead.

BORGER: Anderson, they may try and kind of narrow or try to narrow the scope of the questions. For example, we're not going to ask about collusion, but maybe we're going to ask about obstruction. And it really all depends.

And you guys are the legal experts here. I'm not.

But in talking to lawyers, it seems to me it also depends upon the content of what they want to ask Trump specifically about. Because if it's obstruction, it goes to his state of mind, doesn't it, at the time that he fired Comey?

COOPER: Yes. And, Gloria, that was my next question and I'll ask it to you Jeff.

I mean, if -- you know, if the president wants it to only be on the subject of collusion, and not any financial issues, that's obviously something I guess they could try to negotiate. But, Jeff, what is the timing of when this interview takes place? What does it tell you about the status of the Mueller investigation? Because wouldn't Mueller want to talk to the president toward the end of an investigation after all the information has been collected? So because the chance of calling the president back, I assume, would be limited.

TOOBIN: It would be remote in the extreme.

It is true. I think you're absolutely right that the Mueller team will want to interview Trump towards the end. But remember, I mean, Gloria's reporting says they have not yet started the final negotiations about when this interview will take place.

So, I mean, we are not yet seeing officially the Mueller office saying, this is it. We're ready to do it tomorrow. So, you know, remember, this is an investigation where they have a trial coming up in May, you know, of Manafort and Gates.

[20:10:06] I -- you know, and the White House, every single time Ty Cobb speaks to the public, it's always about we want a prompt resolution. We think things are wrapping up. He said Thanksgiving. He said the end of the year.

Here we are, we have had no signal from the Mueller office that they are wrapping up. We have a lot of hopeful comments from White House lawyers saying, we think they're wrapping up, but that's not the same thing as an actual conclusion or near conclusion of this investigation.

DERSHOWITZ: But remember, ultimately, Mueller has the authority to not negotiate. He has the authority to simply send out a subpoena with no limitations, no compromises, asking him about anything from obstruction. Now, of course, the president can file a lawsuit. And maybe delay it.

But that flies in the face of the commitment by his lawyers that they want it to be done quickly. So, I do think Mueller has the leverage advantage here. But he doesn't want to seem like a bully. He doesn't want to seem like he's doing something that interferes with the operation of the president.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I think -- I'm sorry. I think the leverage -- the president has plenty of leverage here.

DERSHOWITZ: What is it?

TOOBIN: Look how much the Republicans have been attacking Mueller. He could turn this into Mueller overstating. You know, Mueller over -- you know, demanding too much, doing -- you know, breaking promises.

I mean, this will not be a one-sided political argument. And the president and his party are already lined up against Mueller. So, the idea that the president is obligated to give into Mueller here, I just don't think that is politically right.

DERSHOWITZ: Doesn't Mueller just say, every American has an obligation to testify fully and completely in front of the grand jury. We're not going to treat the president any differently. We're going to send him a subpoena. He has to testify. His lawyer can be outside the room. That's the way we treat everybody who is a witness in America. No one is above the law.

Why isn't that a perfect answer, Jeffrey?

TOOBIN: The reason is we have a constitutional system where the president is the executive branch. And he has different -- he has different responsibilities and it has never been said, you know, whether it was a civil case, Clinton v. Jones.

DERSHOWITZ: Nine-nothing.

TOOBIN: The president is in a unique place with regard to the constitutional system. And I don't see that the president will be intimidated by that.

DERSHOWITZ: Jeffrey, that's my argument. I've been making that argument for months, that the president is in a unique place. He has executive authority.

But the one thing I don't think he would ever do was -- would be interfere with a grand jury subpoena requiring him to behave like every other American does.

BORGER: Right.

DERSHOWITZ: But we'll see.

COOPER: Yes. We've got to take a quick break. I want to hear from Gloria and Carrie when we come back.

More on the possibility of President Trump testifying under oath.

And also later, is Oprah Winfrey for president something real after a speech at the Golden Globe Awards, or just a brief flare in a cold winter? We'll have more on that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:16:43] COOPER: Back now with our panel, if President Trump does, in fact, testify under oath, it wouldn't be the first time. In fact, as a real estate developer, he was deposed many times over many years. And his track record was to say the least uneven.

Jeff Toobin, Carrie Cordero, Gloria Borger and Alan Dershowitz are joining us right now.

So, Carrie, you know, one of the things that is so fascinating, this was alluded to in our last discussion, is that Mueller is really holding all the cards in terms of information that the president doesn't know what Mueller knows, doesn't know what all the e-mails that Mueller has had access to. So for something like the Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and people who claim to be working for the Russian government offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, there may be a whole slew of e-mails about that meeting that the president has no idea about.

CORDERO: Well, there is certainly more that the special counsel's team knows than the president and the White House know. But the White House knows more than we know. And so, they have been in talks with the special counsel's office.

For example, several months ago, they had written some memos that they submitted to the special counsel's office trying to argue why the president shouldn't be subject to an inquiry into obstruction, for example. And so, they have behind the scenes been trying to weed down the investigation.

The issues with respect to the interview are first a format. What -- the things we were talking about before the break. What will be the format of the interview, who will conduct it, who will be able to be there with the president, those types of things.

And then the second goes to an issue that Gloria mentioned before the break which is the substance. Will the substance of the interviews, assuming they take place, only pertain to obstruction, only pertain to issues related to cooperation or if we want to call it collusion with the Russian government in terms of their meddling in our election, or even an aspect might be going on that we know the least about, inquiries into Trump Organization financial issues.

COOPER: Right.

CORDERO: And so, those substantive issues would mean very different things for the president if he was interviewed.

COOPER: And, Gloria, what's so interesting is the president is already on the record with the "New York Times" when asked financial issues going back years or decades was a red line for him and he said it was a red line. So, the idea of him being questioned about financial or banking issues, that's obviously something he --

BORGER: And that would -- I think that would come as a shock to his attorneys who have said over and over again that they see no indication that that is what this special counsel is honing in on. But we don't know.

But the White House does have an idea, I believe, of what people inside Trump world have testified to Mueller. You know, don't forget, Ty Cobb has been in the White House sort of producing all the documents that were sent over to the special counsel's office. He has been helping coordinate the interviews between people inside the White House like Hope Hicks, or White House counsel Don McGahn, or former chief of staff Reince Priebus.

And it would seem to me that he would have gotten a read-out of what those people were testifying to the special counsel. So, I think they have sort of a general knowledge of part of the body of work that the special counsel has in front of it as far as what they know about.

[20:20:08] TOOBIN: And --

COOPER: Yes -- Professor, you and I were talking about this during the break. This whole issue of the president's stability which has been raised by his critics. Obviously, they -- the people who believe he is not in some way stable would welcome this kind of an interview because of the very notion, if they believe he's not stable, that he might say something or reveal something as well.

DERSHOWITZ: I think that's right. They will look at everything he says and try to use that as proof of their -- look, I taught psychiatry in law for a quarter of a century. I wrote the standard case book co-edited on psychiatry and law.

The first rule you never diagnose someone that you haven't met and haven't analyzed and haven't examined. The only thing more dangerous in criminalizing political differences is pathologizing them. That's what the Soviet Union did to dissidents. It's what the apartheid, South African regime did, what the Chinese regime.

We should not go down that line of giving psychiatrist the power to use their political opposition to try to create a diagnosis. If you don't like president, vote against him. And believe me, they'll go through every line of testimony.

Somebody on your network just earlier today said he has Alzheimer's. You should check the statements he made now against what he said 10 years ago. Well, check the statements I make now against statements I made 10 years ago. I was a little brighter 10 years ago than I am today. That's what happens when you get old.

But the idea of trying to pathologize political differences is so dangerous to democracy.

COOPER: Jeff, I know you wanted to say something?

TOOBIN: Well, I just want to -- I mean, I thought Carrie did a very good job talking about the different variables that could be in place, regarding Trump's testimony. But I think there's one she left out that's very important, which is simply, how long the testimony will go. You know, when George W. Bush agreed to speak to the 9/11 Commission, he gave them an hour. One hour.

I mean, I think we all underestimate Donald Trump's ability to run out the clock. He could get one question and talk for 40 minutes. And it's very hard to interrupt him. I mean, you've interviewed him, Anderson. You know how hard it is to interview him and he wasn't even the president of the United States then.

You know, I think the president is in a lot better shape regarding this interview than perhaps others do here.

COOPER: Yes.

TOOBIN: I think the idea that he is going to be pinned down by an e- mail, when, you know, he doesn't use e-mail, so it won't be his e- mail. People wrote about him.

You know, I just think he is a very experienced customer. He is president of the United States. It is very hard to tell a president to shut up when you don't -- when there's no judge in the room. I just think he is in better shape than we're giving him credit for.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, thank you. Carrie Cordero, Gloria Borger, Professor, always good. Thank you very much.

There's a new report tonight on what appears to be the president's shrinking workday even though his spokesman said he is working tirelessly for the country and everybody knows it. Keeping them honest, coming up next. What freshly obtained documents of his private schedule have to say about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:26:35] COOPER: Welcome back.

Let me start with this keeping them honest segment by getting one thing out of the way. Here at 360, we are all in favor of people watching more cable news, whenever they like, as much s they like, and that goes for everyone, even the president of the United States.

Not that he does watch a lot of cable news. In fact, here's what he tweeted back in July. Quote: The White House is functioning perfectly, focused on health care, tax cuts reform and many other things. I have very little time for watching TV.

That tweet went out at 9:39 a.m. Eastern Time.

The president tweets a lot in the morning, especially about what he is watching on cable news programs. Sometimes within minutes of the segment in question. Apparently, that tweet wasn't enough for the president.

So, back in November, he told reporters, quote: I don't get to watch much television primarily because of documents. I'm reading documents a lot.

And now, it's not exactly news that the president is doing precisely what he says he's not doing, but now we have a more detailed look of the president's Website.

The Website "Axios" got a look at the copies of the president's private schedule. Every morning, he has three-hour period called executive time. According to the documents Axios has, executive time is from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Now, during executive time, you might think he would be in the Oval Office or elsewhere in the West Wing doing executive stuff. Instead, according to "Axios", this is the last place you actually find him. Officials telling "Axios" that executive time almost always means TV and Twitter time alone in the residence. So, if that's true, he starts his workday around 11:00 and usually wraps up at 6:00, sometimes even earlier. By comparison, President Obama rose early, worked out and was at the

office between 9:00 and 10:00. President George W. Bush begun his workday at 6:45, which doesn't mean that this president or any president shouldn't observe whatever schedule they wish, and for the record, this president's workday was, in fact, longer at the beginning of his administration. It's certainly a difficult job and he's entitled to do it any way he sees fit.

However, keeping them honest, it does seem a little rich to be tweeting that you don't watch a lot of television at the very moment you're almost certainly watching television. It's a little rich to say that you're just too busy with documents when you reportedly in evidently, judging by all the morning tweets, you spend three hours every morning not reading documents or not only reading documents. It's like spending so many days at golf clubs and vacation spots after saying this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wouldn't leave the White House very much because, you know, little things like these little trips where they get on, they cost you a fortune.

I love working. I'm not a vacation guy.

I don't take vacations. I'm not like Obama where he takes Air Force One to Hawaii.

I don't take vacations. I promise you, I will not be taking very long vacations if I take them at all. There's no time for vacation.

Other people, they go away for weeks and weeks. I don't like taking vacations.

Obama likes relaxing and going on vacations. Me, I like working. I like working. I really do.

If I get elected president, I'm going to be in the White House a lot. I'm not leaving. We have deals to make. Who the hell wants to leave, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, today, a spokesman told us, quote: This president works tirelessly for the American people.

He said it aboard Air Force One. If you're wondering where the president was heading at the time on Air Force One, he was on his way first to give a speech in Nashville, and then to see the college football national championship.

So, the question is, is this president a part-time president?

Perspective now from CNN political director David Chalian and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. So, David, three hours for executive time, according to "Axios" for a

self-described very stable genius. President Trump's allies might say, you know, what's the concerning about that? He is allowed to make his own schedule.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And I would agree with those allies. He is allowed to make his own schedule. As you noted in what you were just going through, Anderson, George W. Bush came in at 6:45. Barack Obama between 9:00 and 10:00. Whatever the work flow of the day works for him. I wouldn't begrudge that. I think you highlighted though the problem, it's the hypocrisy in what you can clearly line up. His tweets with what he's watching on television, just like he did when the "New York Times" reported last month that he watches a ton of cable TV and then on Air Force One, he says reporters, I don't watch TV at all. It just bluntly not true because you can match up his Twitter feed to segments he watches on television.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And Dana, I mean it's not like there isn't a history of presidents closely monitoring press coverage, LBJ famously watch TV reports about Vietnam. One could only imagine about -- what mixing would have done, if there was 24-hour news during Watergate. I mean I can't went argue with President Trump's cable TV and Twitter fixation, the behavior (INAUDIBLE) so product of the times some.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think you could argue partially a product of the times. But these times were pretty similar when President Obama was in the White House and there was no indication that he was as obsessive about cable news and about absorbing and consuming this kind of news as this president is. And let's be clear, a big reason that President Trump is as obsessive about cable news is because cable news and all news, newspapers and broadcast news is all about him right now.

And so he wants to get a sense of what people are saying. His hope obviously is to get affirmation. He gets that from watching another cable network mostly as opposed to getting facts at places like these. But the last time I covered a White House full time Anderson was George W. Bush and he's the peep (ph) that -- the thing that people criticized him for was that he was out to lunch, but he didn't watch enough TV news if you remember, covering Katrina. That he didn't -- he was accused of not really understanding the impact and the absolute horrors going on there, because he didn't turn on the television, because that wasn't sort of culturally what he liked to do.

COOPER: I mean David, you know, in past years, when presidents have taken vacation, you know, their supporters will always said, well look, wherever the president goes, he can work and do business and, you know, there's secure areas for him to gather information and phone calls that can be made. So I mean guess that argument could also be made for this president.

CHALIAN: Without a doubt. I mean if he is up in the residence, there is nothing stopping him from directing what's going on downstairs in the west wing. I think that's certainly true. I guess also Anderson, this shouldn't be terribly surprising. If anybody has been watching Donald Trump over the years of his career in business, this is somebody who has been completely obsessed by his press coverage in ways that I have never seen with politicians. And they're pretty obsessed with their press coverage. But taking out every article and writing personal notes and having his assistant fax that back or e- mail that back to a reporter, he had a very -- in his business career, an obsession with his press. Well I just thought that's debated at all.

BASH: And to be fair, not just about his own press coverage, David, you're right, but just about news in general. I mean if you look back at his Twitter feed, of course that is sort of the biggest window we have into what he's thinking and doing. Back, way before he decided he was going to run for office. He commented on everything, on what was going on, on world events, on how the president was doing, from that to what was going on with the kids from "Twilight." I mean this is something that he's always done. And there was no reason to believe that he was going to change that even and especially when he became president.

COOPER: I actually had forgotten about the "Twilight" days --

BASH: You're welcome Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Reminder of that. I believe it was dating advice or relationship advice or something an actress --

BASH: Exactly.

CHALIAN: Another example of the presidency I guess, not changing him but him changing the presidency.

COOPER: Yes, certainly.

BASH: Yes.

COOPER: Dana, David, thanks very much.

Up next, could the next presidential election come down to President Trump versus Oprah? Two close friends, tells CNN, Oprah is quote, "Actively thinking about running for president in 2020". And the White House are just responded to that potential challenge. Details only ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:38:01] COOPER: Oprah Winfrey's impassioned speech the Golden Globe has inspired talk of her running for president in 2020 against President Trump. CNN's has learned from three close friends of the media mogul that she is, "Actively considering it". Here's the moment when she got a standing ovation last night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA MOGUL: I've interviewed and portrayed people who would stood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning. Even during our darkest nights. So I want all the girls watching here now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight. And some pretty phenomenal men fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say "me too" again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Or her words were surely a talk of Twitter and led to the trending #Oprah2020. This afternoon the White House responded to the speculation. A spokesperson aboard Air Force One said, "We welcome the challenge. Whether it be Oprah Winfrey or anybody else". Oprah Winfrey has been asked about a potential run for the White House several times since the 2016 election.

With a look at that, here's our Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Oprah Winfrey just weeks after Donald Trump won the White House signaling she may, may be open to running in 20.

WINFREY: I actually never thought that that was, I never considered the question even a possibility. I just thought, oh, oh.

[20:40:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, it's clear that, that you don't need government experience to be elected president of United States, right?

WINFREY: That's what I thought, right OG (ph), I don't have the experience. I don't know enough, I don't know. Now I'm thinking, oh.

KAYE (voice-over): The more that idea, Oprah for president open for president gained traction, the more Oprah pushed back. On CBS this morning --

WINFREY: You can be safe with that. There will be no running for office of any kind for me.

KAYE (voice-over): And on the late show with Stephen Colbert after Oprah shot down the idea of Michelle Obama running for president. All eyes were on her.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST: Is there any other charismatic African- American woman that both side the fiscal isle --

WINFREY: Never!

KAYE (voice-over): Oprah again trying to end the speculation during an interview with entertainment tonight.

WINFREY: That is just not going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, OK, I just -- WINFREY: Yes. Because that would not be my strength. My strength is

bringing people together. My strength is connecting people to ideas.

KAYE (voice-over): Even during campaign 2016, there was already talked of Oprah at the top of the ticket in 2020. After she did a segment on "60 Minute", talking on Michigan voters, an opinion piece in the New York Post read, "She is uniquely positioned, should she wish to commit herself to seek the Democratic nomination for president and challenge Trump in 2020".

Oprah tweeted back, a response only added to the speculation. Thanks for your vote of confidence. Democrats' best hope for 2020. That nearly 20 years after Donald Trump told Larry King, he would likely choose Oprah as his vice president if he ever were to run.

LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE" HOST: Do you have a vice presidential candidate in mind?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Well, I really haven't gotten quite there yet.

KING: But it was, it's just Oprah.

TRUMP: I guess -- I love Oprah. Oprah would always be my first choice. And if she would do it, she would be fantastic. And she's popular, she's brilliant, she's a wonderful woman. I mean if she would ever do it. I don't know that she would ever do it.

KAYE (on-camera): Meanwhile now after her mega speech at the Golden Globes, her long time partner Stedman Graham told the "L.A. Times" and responds to Oprah running for president, it's up to the people, adding she would absolutely do it. And the ladies of "The View" already hashing it out.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": This is Donald Trump's worst nightmare. Why? Because she will have hire ratings than he will. Believe me. She has -- had higher ratings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

BEHAR: She can throw that in his face every single day.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I love Oprah. I love what she's done, that I always call her the Oracle instead of Oprah. But don't we already have someone in the White House with no political experience? And it's not going that well.

KAYE (voice-over): Oprah 2020. It may have a nice ring to some. But for now, it is all just talk.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well joining me for their take on this on this, CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, and CNN political commentator Van Jones.

So Brian, based on your reporting, I mean how serious or not serious said is this? I mean to have that powerful speech last night and all the speculation says one thing. Actually putting together a campaign and taking that step. I mean that's a huge step.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: She hand crafted the speech for the Golden Globes, the topic of course was the "me too" movement, it wasn't about President Trump. But there certainly were lines in the speech that were working on where New Hampshire, lines in the speech that could come straight from a stump speech. I think Anderson, the answer in your question, is it Oprah's doing a lot of listening? And she had a number of high powered friends who have been urging her to run for president, these conversations have been going on for several months. I'm told, she's not saying she's in but she's definitely not ruling it out either.

She is taking a wait and see approach just like lots of potential Democratic candidates in 2020. One source said to me Anderson, she is soaking it all in. Listening to all the ideas and thinking about what to do.

COOPER: Van, as you consider this possibility, what do you see? I mean obviously, you know, people would have said Donald Trump would never be president and he's president.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the question is, does she want to be demoted from queen of the universe to president of the United States? That's the only question. If she wants to do it, she can do it. She is probably the most beloved human being on earth. She is probably the most beloved carbon based life form on earth. If she runs, she will destroy anybody in front of her. The question is, does she want to do it?

I've talked to a lot of people who were close to her, who were around her, there is basically, you know, bedlam in Oprah land right now as people, you know, as people begging her, please run, please run. But she's given no indication that she has moved off her position that she doesn't want to do it. I will say that speech last night was extraordinary. That speech, she did nine minutes with Barack Obama did in 17 minutes in 2004. She told her story. She told the American story in a way that just was electrifying. If she decides to do this, it is going to be one of the most extraordinary runs in American history.

COOPER: But I mean then -- you know, the world of politics, know, it is a dirty business in a lot of ways. And I mean to your point, you know, it's a step down for her you're saying, but to actually enter the fray, you know, things change quickly. You get bruised, you get battered, you get muddied.

[20:45:13] JONES: Here's the difference with Oprah though, she's already confessed to everything about her life. Her life is an open book. In fact the tough thing on Oprah might be somebody saying, your life wasn't as bad as you say. Or mistakes you made work as awful as you felt like they were. I mean she is uniquely positioned herself to be able to take those blows and turn them into advantages for herself.

Listen, I'll say one more thing. Part of what happened with Hillary Clinton was that she was not able to get white women to vote for her. The majority of white women voted against her and for Donald Trump. I do not think that is a problem that Oprah Winfrey will have. I think she'll have women, I think she'll have men, blacks, whites, Latinos, business people, I mean come on, I mean I'm just -- I got my popcorn, I'm hoping, I'm waiting, I'm watching, some going to happen here oh.

COOPER: Brian, I mean if Oprah Winfrey were to get into the primary, could she get some backlash for taking up all the media oxygen by virtue of her star and much like then candidate Trump did in the 2016 GOP primary, although, I mean frank Hillary if it was her and Trump, the media coverage of both would -- I mean --

STELTER: Hard to imagine.

COOPER: Yes, I don't know if there's enough hours in the day for that?

STELTER: Exactly. I didn't know there would be grumbling from other candidates. Look, a lot of the reasons why Winfrey is getting from these executives, business people urging to run, is because of a sense that the Democratic field is weak. That there are not an obvious, there's not a lot of the obvious candidates who have star power and charisma and a real opportunity in 2020. I'm sure there's lot of politicians who would disagree with that statement.

But in Oprah's world, there are a lot of people who are concerned about the weakness of the Democratic field. That's why they're urging her to run. And what she would bring is the ability to put on a show just like Donald Trump. She did in Chicago for decades at the "Oprah Winfrey Show." That's why as Van said, so many white women love her as well as black women and many men as well. She appeals to a wide variety --

COOPER: Yes.

STELTER: -- a wide array of people in the country.

COOPER: Van --

STELTER: But, she's not commenting. I just want to mention, she's not saying anything about this today. I checked other company again tonight. Their just letting this trial balloon float up into the air today.

COOPER: Van, I mean in terms of actual positions that she takes on complex issues, you know, there's not -- you know, a lot of that has not been fleshed out by her publicly. So that would be one step, that also might alienate some people. You know, it's very easy to say you love Oprah. If -- but then if she starts to take positions --

JONES: Yes.

COOPER: -- that are unethical to -- JONES: Its consumable, I mean she have to deal of that. And let me

just say one thing though, she could hold together a front against hatred in the country, I think a lot of people are concerned about this growing hatred and intolerance. She could together that values base front for inclusion, for tolerance that ain't (ph) mean nobody else and second to that the policies are going to appeal. That's what need -- needs America right now.

COOPER: Van Jones, Brian Stelter, thanks very much.

President Trump gave a speech in Tennessee today before a fired up audience, mostly devoted supporters that, is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:52:21] COOPER: President Trump did today what he seems to like doing best, he recharged his batteries so to speak in front of a crowd, telling members of the American Farm Bureau Federation plenty including precisely what he wanted to hear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Oh are you happy you voted for me? You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Our Gary Tuchman was there as well talking with members of the president's audience.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPODENT (voice-over): Thousands of people lining up in the Opryland Resort and Conference Center in Nashville, Tennessee, to see President Trump in person.

(on-camera): How do you feel he's doing so far?

JOHN FLANDERS, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I'd give him an A, maybe an A plus.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This isn't a Trump rally, it's the national convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation. But the people going to watch the president speak with are mostly big fans of his.

(on-camera): This week and it's been it throw up my life and my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being like really smart. When you hear that, what is -- make you think?

MATT MOORE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well I don't know.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): When he says, like, really smart, if you're really smart, do you need to tweet it and say that to everybody?

MOORE: I don't know but, you know, people have higher intentional, intellect levels than me any way, they have a different way this person ourselves. They're making more or less speak above my level. TUCHMAN (voice-over): Almost everybody we talked to here wants to defend Donald Trump.

(on-camera): Are you a mother?

KATHY JONES, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I am.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Would you like your kids between, I can really smart, do you think it would be good for them to do?

K. JONES: I probably wouldn't want them to be braggadocios. But --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): That's OK if you're president?

K. JONES: Well, not really, but.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So you do or you don't think it's a good thing for him to do?

K. JONES: I want him to be confident. You know, I want him to appear braggadocios but sometimes we need somebody to be braggadocios and do what they say they're going to do.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): If you are indeed a stayed when you are and need a genius, do you need to tweet that?

ERNIE JONES, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I'm a personally, probably wouldn't, but he's very confident in what he's doing.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Reporting while now, many supporters of Mr. Trump believe he needs to tweet to get his message out, despite the fact that as president he can say what he wants, where he wants and how he wants.

How does naming people and giving people names like sulky (ph) and little, and soppy. How does that help 322 million Americans?

KENNY HAMM, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Doesn't bother me.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): But how's that help Americans when he does it?

HAMM: I'm not saying it have (INAUIDIBNLE), it really doesn't bother me and I don't think it bothers majority of the people of the United States.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): When he says he's an excellent stay in school, but we've never seen his grades, do you think he's being too pompous or do you like when he says stuff like that?

VICTORIA CANNON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: He's the president of the United States. What does it matter what his grades were.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Right, but he's the one who's bringing it up that he was an excellent student and he says he's a stable genius and he says he's like a very smart person. Should he be talking like that? [20:55:09] CANNON: I think that's fine. It doesn't matter. I mean he's the president. Show some respect.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And regarding one other presidential issue freshly in the news, what if Donald Trump ran against Oprah? Would she Trump voters?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never no.

TUCHAMAN (on-camera): How come?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she's completely lost touch with where she came from and I think that she has a different agenda than Americans.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So if she ran for president in 2020, do you know who you would vote for? Oprah Winfrey or Donald Trump they run against --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know because I would have to see what her platform is, what she would be wanting to do for the country. What --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So you would consider possibly voting for her depending what happens?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could consider it, sure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: Anderson, President Trump told the audience that he signed two presidential orders to improve rule internet service and then launched into promoting his Twitter brand. He told the audience to make sure you look into it and it's our way of getting around the media, so we stick into that rational. Anderson?

COOPER: All right Gary Tuchman. Gary, thanks.

A lot more ahead as the ground work being laid for an interview with President Trump by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The New Year only eight days old, a lot to unpack. We'll be right back.

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