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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Attorney for Firm Behind Dossier: Somebody's Already Been Killed as a Result of the Publication of this Dossier; Testimony: Dossier Author Feared Trump was Being Blackmailed; CNN: Several Top Trump Advisers Weighing Whether to Leave Admin; Facing Staffing Exodus: Trump Struggles to Fill West Wing; Trump: I'd Beat Oprah But Don't Think She's Going to Run. Aired 7-8pm ET
Aired January 9, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"Erin Burnett OutFront" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: "OutfFront" next breaking news, bombshell testimony, people behind the Russian dossier making major claims. Was someone killed because of this dossier?
And more breaking news tonight, White House exodus, the West Wing expecting more staffers to leave. Two team Trump heavyweights among the possible exits.
Plus, Trump weighs in on Oprah. Will she run? Her longtime friend who just spoke with her is my guest. Let's go "OutFront".
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. "OutFront" tonight, the breaking news, huge claims and hours of testimony just released to the public, 312 pages of it. Testimony of the men who hired ex-British spy, Christopher Steele, to author this, the infamous Trump-Russia dossier. One major claim that they make in this testimony that we just have is that someone may have already been killed because of the dossier. Some may have already been killed because of these 35 pages. That coming from the lawyer for the founder of Fusion GPS. That is the firm that is behind the dossier.
And testimony released today by Dianne Feinstein of the Senate Judiciary Committee against the strong objection of Republicans. We learned that, "Somebody has already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier." This testimony coming, as we are learning, a former British spy who authored the dossier felt obligated to inform the FBI because he was afraid Trump was being blackmailed by the Russians. Obligated to call the FBI out of duty because he feared a candidate for president of the United States was being blackmailed by Russians.
Now, all of this, what you have just heard, does not fit with the narrative that the President and his allies want Americans to believe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's very sad what they've done with this fake dossier. It was made up. And I understand they paid a tremendous amount of money. And Hillary Clinton always denied it. The Democrats always denied it.
REP. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: They put a lot of BS in this thing, fake news. And they tried to dress it up as an intelligence product.
REP. JIM JORDAN, (R) OHIO: Everyone knows this dossier is garbage. But did they dress it up like intelligence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Fake, BS, garbage. Yet, someone may have been killed because of the dossier? At least, nine high profiled Russians died in the nine months after the American presidential election, including a former Russian intelligence official who had close ties to figures mentioned in the dossier. Could the person possibly killed because of the dossier, Oleg Erovinkin, who was found dead shortly after news of the dossier broke, sitting in the back of his car on the streets of Moscow? He was a former general in the Russian spy agency.
As former FBI agent Clint Watts testified to Congress, the truth can be found if you know the trail to follow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Follow the trail of dead Russians. There's been more dead Russians in the past three months that are tied to this investigation who have assets in banks all over the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: There is one thing for sure tonight. We need to know what is true and what is not true in this dossier. The President and his allies are wrong. It is not all garbage. As we've reported, as an example, we know that some of the conversations reported in this dossier between non-Americans did in fact occur as reported in the dossier.
What matters is not to try to politicize this document as Republicans have done. What matters is to separate the truth from fiction and find out what really happened.
Manu Raju begins our coverage "OutFront" tonight.
And, Manu, the transcript of the testimony, 312 pages, pokes major holes in the GOP talking points calling the dossier garbage.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The co- founder of that firm, Fusion GPS, who hired Christopher Steele to investigate, said that they wanted Steele to look into candidate Trump's past, his business dealings, why he went to Russia. Because there were questions that they wanted to learn about exactly what happened. And what Mr. Steele found, according to this transcript, was so alarming that he had to inform the FBI.
RAJU: The 312-page transcript includes new revelations about the infamous opposition research dossier on Donald Trump and the Russians. Glen Simpson, the co-founder of the opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that a former British agent who compiled the dossier was so concerned about what he found that he decided to brief the FBI in the summer of 2016.
The agent, Christopher Steele, worried about a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed, according to Simpson's transcript. Simpson also testified that Steele told him the FBI had similar intelligence from an internal Trump campaign source. And that the FBI believed Chris's information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing.
[19:05:06] And one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization. A person close to Simpson clarified that the reference to an internal Trump campaign source actually refers to the Australian ambassador who contacted the FBI to pass on information that he received from former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.
Simpson testified the research did not start out as a Russia focused investigation, but rather was a broader look at his business career, his finances, and they were trying to figure out whether he's really as rich as he says he is. But Simpson later said he was also interested in Russia. And now Trump had made a number of trips to Russia and talked about doing a numbers of business deal, but never did one, and that struck me as a little bit odd and calling for an explanation.
TRUMP: It's all fake news. It's phony stuff.
RAJU: The President and his allies from the beginning have said the dossier is fake and full of lies. But Simpson testified that Steele understood that the Russians used disinformation as a common tactic. What he said was disinformation is an issue in my profession. And that we are trained to spot disinformation. I'm telling you that I don't believe this is disinformation.
The top Democrat on the committee, Dianne Feinstein, released the transcript despite furious opposition from the committee's GOP chairman, Chuck Grassley, whose spokesman said the unilateral move was totally confounding because it could undercut the inquiry. The move intensified the partisan acrimony on the panel.
SEN. CHRIS COONS, (D) DELAWARE: I think in some ways this is the signal, the end of bipartisan cooperation in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, during this August interview, Glen Simpson was asked by the committee about Mr. Steele's sources, and he would not reveal his sources because, according to his attorney, one of those sources may have been killed because of his cooperation with Christopher Steele in putting together the dossier.
Now, tonight, a source close to that testimony, Erin, tells us it wasn't in reference to any individual but to the string of deaths that occurred in Russia after the elections, raising some concerns about exactly why he would reveal these sources of information because perhaps that could endanger further lives if they were to get out, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. Obviously, extremely troubling.
And now, former adviser to four presidents, including Nixon and Clinton, David Gergen, former assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem, and former APEX lawyer for President George W. Bush, Richard Painter.
Juliette, let me start with you. Obviously, the testimony here that somebody's already been killed, you heard Manu saying, you know, that there's just a string of deaths that Clint Watts referred to in his testimony. They're now talking about that among other points that are being made here that you had the call made to the FBI from Christopher Steele because he felt obligated to call. Not a bunch of BS and garbage, as Trump and his allies would have people believe.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: That's right. What people have to remember, who are, you know, thinking this is all partisan. As remember, Steele approaches the FBI before Donald Trump is president. And he also assumes none of this is going to be public because it's a counterintelligence investigation. So the idea he's doing this for some political gain or to support some political party is belied by the facts.
And so, we tend to talk about the dossier as sort of a single document, but what we now know is that there were three theories of what Steele was doing. One was the Russians cultivating Trump over a five-year period. That gets to the financial dealings. The second is the sexual innuendo questions of hookers that we've heard about.
And then, the third is whether the Trump campaign was through Manafort, who is mentioned specifically in the dossier, and Carter Page, was accepting the information. Those three theories, at least two of them we know to be true now, are why Steele did what he did with the FBI? There's no politics around it because at this stage, he thinks this is just going to be a counterintelligence investigation. He's not going to the Hillary Clinton campaign saying this.
BURNETT: Right. And of course, Richard, you know, I'm going to emphasize here, you know, we have not confirmed a lot of things in the dossier, but we do know here at CNN as just an example, as I pointed out, conversations between foreign nationals that were reported in the dossier, some of those did occur as reported in the dossier right there. There is truth in here. So this whole concept of fake and garbage doesn't add up even on the face of it. I want to read, Richard, what Glen Simpson said in his testimony, that 312 pages we just got, about the former British spy, Christopher Steele. He told lawmakers, to Juliette's point, "Chris said he was very concerned about whether this represented a national security threat and said he wanted to. He said he thought we were obligated to tell someone in government in our government about this information. He thought from his perspective there was an issue, a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed."
[19:10:00] What does it say to you, Richard, that he was so concerned that this appears to be a point of obligation and duty that he felt he needed to do this and go to the FBI on his own?
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER W.H. ETHICS LAWYER FOR THE PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I think that it shows that he had very serious concerns. And we don't know the specifics of those concerns. And the blackmail might not be because Donald Trump did anything illegal. It could be that the Russians have embarrassing information on Donald Trump that they could seek to use to blackmail him. But that is just as much a threat to our national security as if President Trump had then done something illegal that the Russians knew about.
It's critically important for someone in this position who gathers information, whether it's through opposition research or any other avenue, who gets information about a potential threat to our national security from Russia, which has been a long-standing adversary of the United States, it's critically important to contact the FBI. And let the FBI figure out what to do with that information. So he did the right thing. I think this demonstrates that it's very serious.
BURNETT: And, David, look, here are the issue that seems this comes down to, as how Republicans have tried to make this so political. A document that was originally in its early forms when they started to look into this issue, paid for by Republicans, then paid for by Democrats. Then you get this dossier. And now we're finding out that he felt obligated to call --
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Right.
BURNETT: -- the FBI.
GERGEN: He did the right thing. I think we just heard that. I feel right. I think it's important to distinguish what this does not show and what it does show.
GERGEN: What it does not show is any further evidence of collusion, which is at the heart of this investigation.
GERGEN: Now, this Simpson testimony came several months ago, and since then, Senator Feinstein has said she has not yet seen any evidence of collusion. So there was nothing in that testimony at least that would add its fuel to that. BURNETT: Yes.
GERGEN: What it does show is what I think you've been trying to argue here from the beginning. And that we have a lot of very complicated circumstances which may involve a murder of someone in the Russian soil that it may and may -- it looks like it may go back into Trump's history, long before the campaign. Whether they were using things from his past to try to blackmail him, we don't know.
But it does show, especially when this committee process, the committee investigations are falling apart on Capitol Hill and only one left, it does show how important it is that Mueller go ahead and finish this up and get to the bottom of it. It shows that the dossier, what the Republicans were claiming was this fake garbage dossier --
BURNETT: Yes --
GERGEN: -- triggered the FBI investigation. And what this shows is, no, in fact, Chris -- you know, Steele and others went to the FBI before they got the dossier, and that things were happening. And indeed, there may have been somebody inside the Trump campaign who was wired or who was a mole in effect talking to the FBI.
BURNETT: So look, there are a lot of questions. I mean, Juliette, but I guess the big thing is --
BURNETT: -- what we can say tonight is that it's really important to find out what's true in here and what isn't, right? And not to allow it to be dismissed as a complete pile of garbage. Although, of course, some of the things in it may well be. But the wholesale effort to dismiss it by Republicans is simply a partisan exercise.
KAYYEM: That's -- there's no question about that now, and remember, they didn't want this to be released. Mueller will figure out where there's fact and where there's fiction. Steele had a theory of the case. The theory of the case is just one piece of evidence.
I think if the testimony they could be summed up in two words, it's the words other intelligence. What do I mean by that? It is that the FBI actually pursued its investigation of Trump based on other intelligence. Not just the Steele dossier.
Some of that other intelligence may have corroborated what's in the Steele dossier, whether it's the finances or the -- as to David Gergen said, whether, you know, of having to do with the election, or may have actually contradicted it. We don't know what this stage. Everything gets back to Mueller.
I will say, I agree with David. We tend to focus on collusion as like the word, the issue. There may be other theories of the case, or there may be no case at all. And it's up to Mueller to figure it out because, of course, its -- it is 2018 now, we have an election coming up -- elections coming up this year. BURNETT: And of course, we will also say, you know, given the Diane Feinstein going out and putting up this testimony among the fierce, a furious, as Manu used the word, objections of Republicans. You're not having any investigation now in the Judiciary that's over, right? Congress is losing its credibility on every single step because they're not able to do this in bipartisan basis, that all rests on Mueller. Thank you all so very much.
And next, breaking news, the White House bracing for a stopping exodus. Are two major players on their way out?
[19:15:01] Plus, Trump sounding off for the first time about Oprah's possible presidential run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Oprah would be a lot of fun. I like Oprah. I don't think she's going to run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Oprah's friend who has talked to her since her Golden Globes speech is my guest tonight, and singing the national anthem.
BURNETT: Breaking news, a possible staffing exodus at the White House. Some top aides to the President may be leaving. Two of the most senior names on the list, National Security adviser, H.R. McMaster and White House counsel, Don McGahn. Obviously, those are very big names.
And an official telling CNN that all White House aides have been told to make a decision, make a decision, stay or go, before the end of January, qhether they intend to leave the administration or stay through the November midterm elections.
Jeff Zeleny broke the story. He's "OutFront" in Washington.
Jeff, this is a big story. I mean kind of you got to make a decision now. You're in or you're out. And McMaster and McGahn are two big names.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No question about it, Erin. Good evening. The reality here is that the White House said there is going to be some type of staffing exodus, some type of a shift here happening in the coming days, the coming weeks.
And the question is who is going to be on that? Two people who are being discussed as part of that, as you mentioned, Don McGahn, the White House general counsel. He is of course someone who has been at the President's side, giving him legal advice throughout the Russia investigation, but that could be a reason some people watching this closely say -- because he's in fact a witness in that list and he may not want to leave the cocoon of the White House, if you will, because of the Russia investigation. [19:20:11] But he still has been an odds with the President on some matters that we are told he is on that list as is H.R McMaster, the national security adviser. He, of course, is still a three-star army general. So he would still be a government employee. Should he decide to leave at some point, perhaps in search of that fourth star?
But of course, these two could also decide to stay in the Trump White House. It's always unclear where you stand. But of the staffing changes many have already announced their plans to leave. These two are among looming who people are watching very carefully, Erin.
BURNETT: And, Jeff, the problem, of course, if you were to just look at vacancies like those, would be how to replace them?
ZELENY: No question at all about this. This is not that unusual to have staffing changes between year one and year two. The difference here in the Trump White House, the challenge here is the bench for Republicans on the outside is very limited. Who wants to come into this administration? Perhaps is facing legal bills, perhaps facing other challenges here. So that is the question. How could anyone be replaced necessarily at high levels? There simply is not a deep bench.
But, Erin, one person I talked to today, a senior administration official who has decided to leave, they said, has it only been a year? It seems like a decade. So that is the mindset going into some of these staff changes here, as year one comes to a near close, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jeff.
And "OutFront" now, Anna Palmer, senior Washington correspondent for Politico, and Tim Naftali, presidential historian.
All right, you hear the reporting. I mean, obviously, these are very big losses. And, as a Jeff points out, this is a time of transition in any White House you would see that. This White House of course is unlike any other. You're talking about the general counsel and national security adviser.
TIM NAFTALI, FORMER DIRECTOR, NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: Well, what I think we're all looking for is if this presidency is capable of a reboot. And if there's a reboot, what direction is it going to go in? Because it's clear that people like Senator Corker and Senator Graham believe they can somehow influence this administration to be more typically Republican.
But there are other people, and even though Bannon is gone, there are other people who believe in the America first agenda. And the America first agenda, the skepticism about trade, the meanness about immigration, that doesn't square with a lot of establishment Republicans.
So these changes in the White House will give us a sense of which direction, the rebooted White House is planning to go.
BURNETT: Which is a really important point. But also, Anna, I mean, it's pretty stunning here that we're -- that they're saying, OK, by the end of the month. And, again, as I point out -- Jeff points out, you know, you always coming into a midterm year, you would have transition, but nothing like this White House. I mean, someone, you know, was telling me their phone is ringing off the hook with people making calls to get out.
ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yes, I think we have seen a couple of things that are very different in this White House. It is very typical that an administration would say you needed to be on the team or be off the team because we need to go into this battle. And believe me, it's going to be a battle for 2018 with the team that's going to stick around.
But you usually do not have these types of high level names that are being floated out there. H.R. McMaster has been floated out several times though as almost losing his job before and he's managed to hang on. So I think that's the kind of the big questions, are these really for real or a lot of people just saying hey, it's time to go? This has been exhausting.
BURNETT: And, you know, just to remind, everyone, McMaster, you know, at one point, Trump made him look very ridiculous, OK. "The Washington Post", remember that report, came out and said that the President shared highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in the Oval Office. McMaster came out, I believe it was right before this program, he came out in front of the microphones to speak to the world and the cameras, and this is the statement he made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. H.R MCMASTER, WHITE HOUSE SECURITY ADVISER: The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false. I was in the room. It didn't happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Only to be contradicted the next day by his own boss via tweet who said, "As President, I wanted to share with Russia, which I have the absolute right to do facts pertaining, and then continue to make this."
So, basically H.R McMaster saying, you know, that nothing was shared. The President saying, yes, it was shared and I have the right to do it. This is the reality of what this job is.
NAFTALI: Well, this is really important. You need a national security adviser who both has the respect to the President and understands the process. Because what a very good national security adviser does is presents options to a president. The best of them have done that. And basically clarified the options, made sure the bureaucracy has presented them in a way the President understands them and then the President can make a decision.
If the President doesn't respect the national security adviser, the system breaks down. BURNETT: How significant would these changes be?
PALMER: I mean, I would say, I think they're going to be very significant. I think the question is really, to your point, not just the national security adviser, but to have a boss who's going to contradict you, that is so, you know, kind of unpredictable, I think is what Jeff was saying earlier, you don't have the A-team, you don't have the B-team, you really don't even have the C-team of establishment Republicans, longtime operatives willing to leave their jobs, leave government services and other areas and go into this White House.
[19:25:02] BURNETT: It's pretty stunning. You don't have the C-team. So, if they go, who's going to take these jobs? This is now a very well question.
PALMER: It's been shuffling the deck so far.
PALMER: All right. Thank you both so very much. Crucial questions tonight.
And next, all about Oprah for president speculation not going away. Positively Trumpian, right, playing it out 18 months before a possible announcement. Trump now talking about defeating her. Oprah's friend who just spoke with her is "OutFront" tonight.
And the President holding a televised negotiating session on immigration today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I would love not to build the wall, but you need the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump weighing in for the first time on speculation that Oprah Winfrey is considering a 2020 run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Yes, Oprah would be a lot of fun. I know her very well. You know, I did one of her last shows. She had Donald Trump, before politics. Her last week. And she had Donald Trump and my family, it was very nice. No, I like Oprah. I don't think she's going to run.
TRUMP: I don't think she's going to run. I know her very well.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: "OutFront" now, Richard Sher, he's a friend of Oprah's and her former co-host from the '70s and '80s. He also just spoke with her twice yesterday.
Richard, thanks so much for being with us. Look, you've known her for a very long time. You've talked to her since all of this excitement and buzz among Democrats --
RICHARD SHER, COLLEEN SWEENEY-HOSTED TALK SHOW WITH OPRAH: That's true.
BURNETT: -- after the Golden Globes. What did she say to you about all of these, this sort of incredible reaction?
SHER: Well, first of all, it's great to be with you. I'm a big fan, so is Annabell, and it's great to be here to talk about someone that we've known and loved for about 42 years. And I can just say this, I know that President Trump made a late afternoon statement that he thinks that he'd beat Oprah, but that she won't run.
And having having talked to her, I'm not sure that she wants to. I believe she does not want to run. I believe that she would rather be focusing not on moving into the White House but her movie that's coming up "A Wrinkle in Time" which I think debuts in March.
She would be, Erin, a formidable candidate for anybody who would run, whether it be against Trump or some other Republican. Because she, as you saw at the golden globes, the different people that were standing up and standing ovations. It wasn't just they who were excited about it. The next day, in fact, later that night, social media exploded.
And Oprah told me that she was so overwhelmed by the amount of support, the avalanche of positive comments that were made. She was shocked. A nine-minute speech, and look what it turned into. A #Oprah2020movement. So, that's pretty darn good, huh?
BURNETT: I mean, you know, look, obviously when you say she feels overwhelmed, did you get the feeling she wasn't going to run, or did she say that to you directly?
SHER: Well, we have talked about it over the -- you know, since all of this started. Since she endorsed Obama way back then. I mean, she sort of bowed out of politics a lot.
But we've talked about it. And I do believe, and I think Gayle believes, and Stedman believes that this is not something that she wants to do.
But I can tell you this. That anything Oprah sets her mind to, she does pretty well. Everything she touches turns to gold.
I mean, you know her personally also. She's very special. And she is the real deal.
When she said that she was getting off her daily talk show after 25 years, the "Today" show had me on to talk to Lester Holt. I told him the same thing. Oprah Winfrey is the real deal.
There's no -- you know, there's no fakeness. There's no falsehoods. She is who she is. That's why everybody can relate to her, whether they'd be rich or poor.
So, she's pretty good, and a great friend. So generous and loving. I think she would be a good candidate.
BURNETT: All right. Richard Sher, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.
SHER: Great to see you.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, Van Jones, former special former special adviser to President Obama and Bill Kristol, "The Weekly Standard" editor at large.
Bill, your reaction. Oprah is not shutting down speculation she could run. The president has come out and said he'll beat her. What do you make of it?
BILL KRISTOL, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF OF VICE PRESIDENT DAN QUAYLE: Yes, I wouldn't say that her friend Richard Sher there was exactly definitive in saying she wouldn't run. She doesn't want to run.
But, you know, popular demand could lead her to think she's doing the right thing for the country. I don't mean to be snide at all. It could be the right thing for the country. She's a very impressive woman. Fantastic story of her life. True American success story, didn't inherit the money the way the current president did.
I think if I were a Democrat, if I were a moderate Democrat in particular, I would think she's got sound reviews on economics than Bernie Sanders. She's got more of a touch in dealing with Middle America than Elizabeth Warren. She's younger than Sanders and Warren and Biden.
What's not to like about Oprah Winfrey as the Democratic candidate? I think she could beat Trump, honestly.
BURNETT: I have to say, it's the strongest sell I have heard for a Democratic candidate from "The Weekly Standard".
KRISTOL: Well, it's a kiss of death, but that's OK. She can overcome even my kiss of death, she's so impressive.
BURNETT: So, Van, you know, this was interesting today. In September of 2016, a columnist for the "New York Post" wrote an article titled Democrats' best hope for 2020, Oprah. John Podhoretz, and it was, you know, back in September.
Oprah saw it, got her attention. And she tweeted, John Podhoretz, thank you for your vote of confidence.
So, she certainly stoked the flames there. That was back in September. Then her friend, her dear friend, of course, Gayle King, did very little to tamper the speculation down. Here's Gayle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLI)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is she considering it?
GAYLE KING, CBS HOST, LONGTIME OPRAH WINFREY FRIEND: No, I absolutely don't think that her position has changed. I don't. You know, I was up talking to her very late last night.
I do think this, though, guys. I think she's intrigued by the idea. I do think that.
I also know that after years of watching the Oprah show, you also have the right to change your mind. I don't think at this point she is actually considering it. But listen, there are people who have said they want to be her campaign manager, who want to quit their jobs and campaign for her. She loves this country, and would like to be of service in some way. But I don't think that she's actively considering it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the record, that's a significant change --
KING: I don't think she's actively considering it at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, you know, when you put that together, Van, what do you get?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think you get an accurate picture. I think she doesn't want to do it, but I think she's intrigued.
[19:35:01] And honestly, the country does need Oprah Winfrey right now in some way. This -- this is not a normal period. There's a wave of hatred. There's counter hatred.
We need somebody who can hold together a front for good and front for positivity and inclusion, and right now, she is that person. She did in nine minutes, she did what Barack Obama did in 17 minutes in 2004. She lit the world on fire, and I think she's going to have hard time getting away from this movement trying to draft her now.
BURNETT: Now, she has 15 months --
KRISTOL: There's our first campaign manager, Erin.
BURNETT: Yes, that's right.
KRISTOL: There he is. Savvy political guy. Working the Obama White House.
BURNETT: So, here's the question I have, right? You had some Democrats rushing and embracing this, OK? Then you have others who were upset, OK? That includes, you know, the executive director of National Nurses United, right? They had supported -- a group that supported Bernie Sanders. But also even people like Nancy Pelosi, OK?
She said, Bill, quote, I think one of the arguments for Oprah, arguments for Oprah, is 45. I think one of the arguments against Oprah is 45.
You know, sort of this -- well, she's a lot like Trump. So, you know, far from a full throated endorsement from, you know, the most powerful female Democrat.
KRISTOL: I mean, look, I am all for politics, but career politicians probably overrate that. And the problem with Trump isn't that he didn't have experience with Washington or politics. The problem with Trump is he's Trump. I don't know Oprah Winfrey, but my impression is in terms of character, disposition. She's pretty different from Donald Trump.
So, I'm not so sure that the notion -- Trump doesn't discredit the notion that someone who hasn't been in politics all of his or her whole life couldn't be a good president. It's probably better -- it's not an entry level job. But still, I think that's unfair in a way to Oprah.
BURNETT: So, Van, I got to play for you, they know each other, Oprah and the president. And he talked about how he was one of her final guests, and sort of in very Trumpian style. You know, he was on the final show because who else would you have on your final show? Very Trumpian.
Here's just a quick clip of a time he and his family were on Oprah's show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I went to the Wharton School of Finance, and where will say that I am sitting next to it. There is nobody ever, ever that has had it.
DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: He's really an American guy. He's not this enigma that no one really can understand. He's much more normal than he would ever let on.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you.
OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA MOGUL: You're much more normal.
Donald Trump doesn't just live large. He lives really on top of the world. He is the American dream. We had to see it for ourselves.
TRUMP: The time on the Oprah show.
Congratulations. You're going to negotiate on the Oprah Winfrey show.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Van, friendly.
JONES: Hey, look. I mean, you got -- you know, you have two global superstars. Look, one of the reasons why a lot of Democrats are saying, well, we don't want this. We want somebody who has a lot of experience in government.
You have had people who have become governors who have had no experience in government and done great. They have done terrible. You have people who have been in office their whole lives who do great and who do terrible.
That's not the question. The question is what does the country need at that moment? At this moment, we need a unifier. At this moment, we need somebody who could actually remind us we're a better country when we listen to each other.
We live in a world that Oprah created. Don't forget, the idea you can be confessional in public life, the idea that you can shed a tear and that's not a big deal, all that, we live in a world she created but not in a world she governs.
If she decides she wants to step up and in the last round actually govern, it's a demotion for her. She's being demoted from queen of the universe to president of the United States. But I hope she thinks about it.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you --
KRISTOL: Van is really on board. Van makes me look like a shrinking violet today.
BURNETT: Well, I don't know. Maybe it's dual campaign chiefs.
All right. Thank you both so very much.
And next, the president holding an unprecedented televised negotiating session over immigration. But did he raise more questions than answers?
And questions about Trump's mental fitness. He's not the first president who's had to defend his health.
[19:42:51] BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump in an unprecedented move, held a negotiating session on immigration with the cameras rolling, an opportunity for everybody to see him in action. Trump tying his border wall to a decision on whether to extend legal status for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, referred to as DREAMers. But he's also saying he would take the heat for a comprehensive immigration deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If we do this properly, DACA, you're not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform. And if you want to take it that further step, I'll take the heat. I don't care. I don't care. I'll take all the heat you want to give me. And I'll take the heat off both the Democrats and Republicans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Just moments ago, the president tweeted, quote: as I made very clear today, our country needs the security of the wall on the southern border, which must be part of any DACA approval. DACA, of course, refers to DREAMers.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez. He's been a vocal advocate for immigrants.
So, let me ask you, Congressman, about the president's tweet. Moment ago, our country needs the security of the wall, which must be part of any DREAMer approval.
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D-IL), CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS: My reaction is we just got an e-mail by the acting secretary of homeland security in which he said great job. Pat ourselves on the back. Donald Trump has decreased by 40 percent the number of, quote/unquote, illegal entries across the border.
They have, Erin, been praising themselves since the moment Donald Trump entered the White House on how they have reduced. So, if they're doing such a magnificent job, why do we need a wall?
Secondly, let's face it. There are better ways to secure our country. So, let's just agree, we need border security.
But Erin, we need it everywhere. We need it at LAX, at O'Hare, at JFK. Tens of thousands of people enter every day into America. Those are borders, but we don't want to talk about those borders.
I think we should ask ourselves if we are truly for border security, why is it only the border between Mexico and the United States? And why is it a border that he insists Mexico is going to pay for, now he's asked us for billions of dollars?
So, look, let's secure the border, but let's do it smart and wisely. Let's not do it as a political gesture to a base of people who may not like immigrants and may want a wall simply to show their disdain and distaste for immigrants.
[19:45:11] BURNETT: So, the question here about the wall, though, and the president just on twitter and in his negotiating session which was broadcast today, says there must be a wall. However, that is not how the White House press secretary put it in today's briefing. Let me play both clips. Here they are. GUTIERREZ: OK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: John, you need the wall. I mean, it's wonderful. I would love not to build the wall, but you need the wall.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Does the president want a wall in exchange for giving those DREAMers protection?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president wants border security.
ACOSTA: OK, and --
SANDERS: Just to be clear, by you all during this timeframe.
ACOSTA: A wall has to be part of a deal in order for DREAMers to have protection?
SANDERS: Border security does have to be part of this process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He calls it a wall. She keeps correcting it to border security. My question to you is, is the administration trying to back off the wall by calling it border security? To back off the whole idea? Or are they trying to hide the wall by just using different words?
GUTIERREZ: Look, we will -- the DREAMers are important not just to me but to all Americans. The vast majority of Americans shouldn't think we should hold these young men and women hostage, which is what we're doing. In order to give the Bannons and the millers of the world who don't like immigrants at all, some more anti-immigrants ammunition. Why don't we do a deal?
Remember when they came out of the White House, Nancy and Chuck coming out of the White House with president Trump and they said, OK, we will do the DREAM Act, which allows DREAMers to get a permanent residency and citizenship, 1.7 million of them, in exchange for additional border security. Wow. Everybody said let's do that. That sounds like a reasonable approach. We can do that.
GUTIERREZ: I just want to make very, very clear to your audience, when I first introduced a bill with McCain and Kennedy, and then Congressman Flake, now Senator Flake, in 2005, the first chapter was about border security and security in this country. We have always been.
What they are not for is allowing the 11 million to come out of the shadows and into the light of day and register with the government. We can do a complete package. But I just want to make clear, it shows you today, you know that little clip that you played of the president saying oh, yes, we can do this, like we're just going to turn the page and do comprehensive immigration reform. It's easy.
It's complicated, Mr. President. If it was easy, we would have done it. It echoes to the time he said, wow, who knew that reforming our health care system would be so complicated?
Yes, Mr. President. Things are complicated. And simply because you have 55 minutes and you turn the White House into a television show, right, which you're accustomed to, does not solve problems. And I just want to say, I'm ready to work with this president and with Republicans to get it done.
BURNETT: So, to your point, though, about the TV show. Look, this was all broadcast. OK. We saw the whole thing.
One official told CNN that was in part to, quote, put to rest the hyperventilation about him, seemingly to refer to Michael Wolff's book and questions about his mental fitness. What did you see there?
GUTIERREZ: Here's what I saw.
BURNETT: Command, control?
GUTIERREZ: Here's what I saw. I saw someone who said, hmm, I'm used to having a TV camera on. Let me show the whole world I'm in charge.
And then notice, as though it was a TV series, he wanted to show bipartisanship. So, on one hand, he had Steny Hoyer, and on the other hand, Dick Durbin, two Democrats, to show the world he was working hand in glove.
But here's what he didn't have. He didn't have a plan.
Look, Erin, I have been here 25 years, I have been in similar situations when Clinton was president, Bill Clinton was president of the United States. I have been in similar situations in those rooms with Barack Obama. Each one of those presidents entered the room to listen to others, to incorporate their ideas, but they had a plan and a solution.
They invited cameras in so they could roll and take the pictures and show everybody who was there, and then they said, out of here because we want to do the serious business of the American people.
And so, look, we're going to get to the work now when there aren't the cameras because it's important, and Erin, today over 300 DREAMers lost their legalization in this country. They lost their ability to work and to be free from deportation.
BURNETT: Which is a number, of course, we all should keep in mind.
Thank you so very much, Congressman. I appreciate your time.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Erin, for having me. Thank you.
BURNETT: All right. And next, President Trump on the defense over his mental fitness. But he's far from being the first president to face these questions.
And President Trump has made the national anthem his issue. Some are now asking, though, does he know the words?
[19:52:43] BURNETT: New tonight, the White House going on offense amid growing speculation about Donald Trump's mental health. Senior administration officials telling CNN that Trump's bipartisan meeting with lawmakers today was open to the cameras for the entirely to, quote, put to rest the hyperventilation about him.
Trump is not the first to face questions about his mental health.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president is ripping into those questioning his health, insisting one of his greatest assets is his mental stability, as solid as his resume.
TRUMP: I made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
FOREMAN: Why such pushback in because such claims against any politician can be poison.
Presidential historian Doug Brinkley.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The big fear that politicians have or people running for president is if they are open- handed about a medical ailment or mental illness, that the opposition will weaponize it.
FOREMAN: A study by Duke University of the first 37 presidents says historically, almost half showed signs of mental illness sometime in their lives, including Abraham Lincoln, who wrote about his depression, I am the most miserable man living, and it's not just mental illness they'd rather keep quiet.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT: No one believes that I'd be a candidate for the presidency if I didn't think I could meet my oath of office.
FOREMAN: In more modern times, John Kennedy suffered from Addison's Disease and reliance on painkillers. Lyndon Johnson was suspected of paranoia. Richard Nixon took valium.
And while none of this was inherently at odds with doing the job, the perception it might be compelled each administration to keep such matters hidden. JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: The Constitution of the United States
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.
CARTER: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
FOREMAN: Jimmy Carter tried instituting routine mental health checks for presidents. It went nowhere, even as public awareness grew.
JODY POWELL, PRESS AIDE TO CARTER CAMPAIGN AND WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You're not a private citizen. You're a citizen -- you're the president of the United States and health matters are something that people have a right to know about.
FOREMAN: But politicos remain wary that even a rumor, like the one that Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis had seen a psychiatrist could turn into a biting joke or worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to know whether he's fit to govern by having his medal records made public.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: I'm not going to pick on an invalid.
[19:55:02] FOREMAN: Ronald Reagan himself faced false speculation about his health and mental acuity, adding to the continuing fears of others that any claim of infirmity could be perilous.
BRINKLEY: It's going to bite you when you run for public office. It's sad, it's unfortunate but it's a fact.
FOREMAN: Amid Trump's furious disputing of these claims, he says it's like Ronald Reagan all over again, meaning that his health is being impugned with no evidence to back the claims. And it is worth noting, while Reagan announced in 1994 he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, that was well after he left office -- Erin.
BURNETT: Of course, that's several years. Thank you so much, Tom.
And as Tom just said, there was so much speculation about Reagan's health while he was president. Last night I said Reagan had Alzheimer's at the end of his tenure. Of course, as Tom just pointed out, he was not diagnosed until after he left office.
Coming up next, Jeanne Moos.
BURNETT: Tonight, the president and the national anthem. Here's Jeanne Moos.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump has wrapped himself in the flag and slammed kneeling protesters.
TRUMP: To say, get that son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off the field right now.
MOOS: When the president got on the field, was he singing a different tune? Is it just me or was Trump struggling with the national anthem, read one tweet. It looked like Donald Trump just kept repeating apple sauce during the national anthem, read another.
"The View" subtitled fragments of the lyrics mouthed by the president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he know the words?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He leaves out the beginning of the word.
MOOS: Oh, come on, haven't you ever half sung the national anthem? Worried about hitting the high notes? Not sure if it's the perilous fight or the perilous night.
The president picked up his game half way through and started singing all of the words, that's what the GOP tweeted out.
And he crushed the ending. Tweeted one fan, I heart my President Trump. He sings along with our national anthem.
At least he didn't need Melania to nudge him this time -- to get him to put his hand on his heart. And he did it a lot better than the star of the "Naked Gun".
Even if President Trump didn't totally mangle the "Star Spangled Banner", comedy shows wasted no time putting words in his mouth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Red square, my best buddy lives there --
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: Ah, got to be able to have a sense of humor about all of these things.
Thanks so much for joining us.
And don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT any time, anywhere. You just have to go to CNN Go, as always.
We'll see you back here tomorrow night.
"AC360" with Anderson Cooper begins right now.