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WSJ: Giuliani Doesn't Rule Out Manafort Pardon; President Trump to "Washington Post:" "When You're Talking About an Atmosphere, Oceans are Very Small;" Polls Close In Racially-Charged Runoff Elections, Awaiting Results From Mississippi; National Security Adviser John Bolton Says He Hasn't Listened To Khashoggi Audio Because He Doesn't Speak Arabic; NYT: Lawyer Of Manafort Repeatedly Briefed President's Lawyers On Manafort's Discussions With Federal Investigators. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired November 27, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening from Washington.

There is breaking election news tonight. Polls just closed in Mississippi where incumbent Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith is facing Democratic underdog Mike Espy in a runoff.

Now, the race, as you know, has gotten national attention for the history it could make tonight as well as the ugly historical chapter it can't seem to escape at times. If elected, Espy could become the state's first African-American senator since reconstruction. Whoever wins, though, will claim victory after a campaign that saw shadows of Mississippi's segregationist past resurface, most recently in the form of nooses hanging from trees. We'll, of course, bring you live updates as the totals start coming in.

President Trump has given a new interview. He has made news doing that we'll tell you about.

First, though, keeping them honest. Potentially big new questions in the Russian investigation and the corresponding lack of answers from the White House. The latest developments center on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is still holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London where he's been hiding for years.

When we left you last night, Manafort had just been accused in a court filing of repeatedly lying to investigators, thereby breaching his plea deal with the special counsel. Then today this, Britain's "Guardian" newspaper reporting that Manafort met secretly with Assange several times at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. According to "The Guardian", one such meeting took place around March of 2016, just months before WikiLeaks released Democratic e-mails believed to have been stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

Now, "The Guardian", whose reporting this is, says it's unclear why Manafort saw Assange or what was discussed. Both WikiLeaks and Manafort strongly, strongly deny the meeting ever took place at all. Manafort today said he doesn't even know Assange. Separately, CNN has learned that team Mueller has been looking into a

meeting Manafort had last year with Ecuador's president. A source with personal knowledge of the matter telling us investigators specifically asked Manafort whether they discussed Assange or WikiLeaks. So, clearly, any possible connections between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks appear, perhaps through Paul Manafort, appear to be a focus for the special counsel.

Now, we already know what the president thought about WikiLeaks during the campaign. In short, he was kind of a vocal fan.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This just came out. WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.

This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable.

Another one came in today. This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove.

Getting off the plane, they were just announcing new WikiLeaks that I wanted to stay there but I didn't want to keep you waiting.

I love reading those WikiLeaks.


COOPER: Now, the president had nothing to say about WikiLeaks today nor about the specifics of the case against Paul Manafort. However, something appears to be weighing on him, because this morning he went online. He said, quote, the phony witch hunt continues, he tweeted, but Mueller and his gang of angry Dems are only looking at one side, not the other. Wait until it comes out how horribly and viciously they are treating people. Ruining lives for them refusing to lie. Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue.

Then a few minutes later tweeted this. The fake news media builds Bob Mueller up as a saint when he in actuality he is the exact opposite. He's doing tremendous damage to our criminal justice system where he is only looking at one side and not the other. Heroes will come of this and it won't be Mueller and his terrible gang of angry Democrats.

Look at their past, look where they come from. The now $30 million witch hunt continues and they've got nothing but ruined lives.

And he finished his writing, where is the server? Let these terrible people go back to the Clinton Foundation and Justice Department.

Keeping them honest, now, whatever you think of him, Robert Mueller actually is a war hero decorated for bravery in Vietnam. He's a registered Republican, we should point out. Also, the Justice Department has already investigated Hillary Clinton's e-mails. You might remember from it the days, weeks, and months of coverage that we and others gave it at the time.

In any case, the tweet certainly came up at today's White House press briefing.


REPORTER: If he has no concerns why is he tweeting so vociferously about it?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly, the president has voiced his unhappiness from the beginning. This has gone on, this ridiculous witch hunt, for more than two years. Still nothing that ties anything to the president. We'd like to see it come to a conclusion.


COOPER: Nothing that ties anything to the president, she says. Throughout her answers, these two words come up again and again, no collusion. She worked them into her answer when asked about the new Manafort stories.


REPORTER: Sarah, "The Guardian" is reporting today that Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange around the time he was coming on board to the Trump campaign. I'm wondering if you know that the meeting took place and if you remain confident in the White House's repeated denials that no campaign officials were involved in the discussions about plans to release John Podesta's e-mails?

SANDERS: Certainly, I remain confident in the White House's assertion that the president was involved in no wrongdoing, was not part of any collusion. The things that have to do with Mr. Manafort, I refer you to his attorneys to address that.


COOPER: Well, no collusion. When CNN's Jim Acosta asked this next question, listen to the answer.


[20:05:03] JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESONDENT: Would the president recommend that Mr. Manafort begin to cooperate, offer full cooperation, to the special counsel's office?

SANDERS: We can only speak to what our role is in that process and not only has the president but the entire administration has been fully cooperative with the special counsel's office, providing hours and hours of sit downs as well as over 4 million pages of documents. We continue to be cooperative but we also know there was no collusion and we're ready for this to wrap up.


COOPER: No collusion. We have heard that many times from the president, the White House. It remains to be seen if we'll soon hear that from Robert Mueller himself. And just a few moments ago, as if on cue, at least to bookend the day,

the president tweeted another verbal attack on special counsel similar to the ones from this morning.

CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now from the White House.

So, Sarah Sanders kept responding no collusion. We know that phrase for a long time. She appeared to be making a point of defending only the president this time and not his campaign.

ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson. And I think that sound bite you just played demonstrates that pretty well. You know, when she was asked whether or not they are still sticking with the story that there are no campaign officials involved in any kind of collusion with the Russians, she said, well, you know, we are confident in the White House's assertion that the president was not involved in any wrongdoing or any kind of collusion.

That seems, Anderson, to leave some space, some room for what may be coming. That is possible new indictments of the Mueller investigation and that full report which may lay out exactly what happened. But my sense of it all day long, Anderson, during that briefing was that Sarah Sanders was being very careful, perhaps more careful than I have seen her before in answering these questions.

COOPER: Sarah Sanders says they are ready for the Mueller investigation to wrap up. She didn't say whether the president would encourage Paul Manafort to cooperate, though.

ACOSTA: That's right, I asked that question. And she very studiously avoided recommending that Paul Manafort cooperate with the Mueller investigation. She went on to say, as you played there, that the White House is cooperating. They feel like they're cooperating in producing documents and answers and so on in this investigation.

But no question about it, Anderson, a cynic out there could look at that answer and say, OK, not only is she not recommending that Manafort cooperate with the Mueller investigation, she could be sending the signal that he should not cooperate with the Mueller investigation and that, of course, is the reason why there is so much speculation, so much conversation here in Washington that a pardon offer has been dangled over Paul Manafort's head in some way, shape or form.

But when Sarah Sanders was asked about that she said she knew of no conversations about pardons going on inside the White House, Anderson.

COOPER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

We have breaking news on all of this, here is what the president's TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani, told the "Wall Street Journal." He said and I'm quoting: Right now would not be the time. He added, it's my job as his private lawyer to tell him he should not even consider it now because it would be misunderstood. It doesn't mean you give away your presidential prerogative to do it at the right time. Manafort, he said, should get the same consideration as anyone else. We've got quite a group of legal, political and reporting types to

talk about all this. Carrie Cordero is here, Nia-Malika Henderson, Gloria Borger, former Senator Rick Santorum, and Jen Psaki.

Carrie, is there and it is not a legal term. Is there a non-sketchy reason why Paul Manafort would have had meetings? Again, this is just according to "Guardian" reporting, CNN hasn't matched that. We can't verify it -- with Julian Assange?

CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Well, it's a good question. Why else would he be there? What would he be doing?

It was right about the time, at least one of the meetings alleged to have taken place in the spring of '16. That's right before he joined the Trump campaign. WikiLeaks before then had for several years been in the business of releasing classified information, so facilitating the unauthorized disclosure of really sensitive and high volume of classified and very sensitive U.S. government diplomatic and classified information.

So that's what we know and that is what he should have known at the time about WikiLeaks. Whether or not there was some other non- nefarious reason to be there, who knows?

But I would just say also, with respect to whether or not the meetings took place, he obviously denies them. "The Guardian" has his reporting. I would say these are verifiable facts.

COOPER: Right.

CORDERO: He was either -- so investigations whether it is news organizations' investigations or whether it's law enforcement and intelligence investigations when that information is revealed will determine whether he was there.

COOPER: You say verifiable. It should be pointed out, Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy. There are British police, I assume, still outside that embassy. They want to see if Julian Assange ever leaves, and I would assume they are very aware and recording anybody who goes in and out.

CORDERO: Who goes in an out. So, right now, we don't know the answer to whether it's true or not true. We have denials and we have reporting. But it is verifiable and there is some point when the public will know whether or not this took place. If it took place, it's very significant.

COOPER: Gloria, the president does seem to be fuming, I don't know if it's more than usual, but certainly at a high volume.

[20:10:03] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, very much so. I just spoke with somebody who spoke with the president recently and said that he noticed that he is acting kind of more scattered these days and I think it's all related to the Mueller investigation, how much the president knows about it and what is going on internally in that investigation, we do not know.

But we just know that he and his attorneys finished writing this round of answers to Mueller questions. He didn't like the questions. I think that was difficult for him. Now he sees what is going on with Manafort. He sees what is going on with Roger Stone. He sees this whole notion of Roger Stone and WikiLeaks and the questions being raised about what he knew about what Roger Stone knew about WikiLeaks.

And I think it's really troubling to him because he doesn't know how this is going to spin out because nobody does.

COOPER: It is interesting, Nia. I mean, 24 hours since Mueller revoked the plea deal saying that Manafort is a liar, the president hasn't thrown Manafort under the bus at this point?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, he hasn't. Obviously, a lot of speculation about whether he is thinking about pardoning him. It was interesting, it was in "The Washington Post" interview here. Josh Dawsey asked that very question, basically said, are you planning to do anything to help Paul Manafort? Trump says let me go off the record because I didn't want to get in the middle of the whole thing. He speaks off the record.

And then Josh Dawsey says, is there any version of that that you are willing to give us on the record? Trump said I'd rather not. At some point I'll talk on the record about it, but I'd rather not.

What we do know -- yes, I mean, who knows what he is saying off the record? At some point, we'll obviously know.

What we do know on the record from what Trump has said about Paul Manafort is he called him a brave man. He compared him to Michael Cohen and saying that he didn't break in the way that Michael Cohen did. You know, he basically said he had been treated unfairly, worse than Alphonse Capone.

And so, yes, I mean, I think that's the million-dollar question. What is Trump thinking in terms of Paul Manafort? Whether he's thinking about pardoning him?

CORDERO: Just one point on the pardon issue. So, this has happened before over the course of the investigation where we learned that the president is obtaining advice from his personal legal counsel about an official act, the act of using the pardon authority of the executive. That is actually significant. This is an official act.

And so, the question, according to the Rudy Giuliani information you played earlier is, is he making official decisions using his executive authority based on his personal legal exposure? And that's actually a really significant thing when we think about the role that the president is supposed to play and the use of his executive authority, is he making decisions in his official capacity based on his personal legal jeopardy?

BORGER: Is that a crime? It's not a crime for him to do that, right? CORDERO: Well, impeachment -- whether or not someone is impeached is

a political factor. But I certainly -- certainly, the improper use of executive authority is something that downstream members of Congress should take note of.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, again, we have not validated the reporting by "The Guardian." If your campaign manager when you were running for president was having meetings with Julian Assange, would that be appropriate in any realm?

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't imagine my campaign manager meeting with him or being in Ecuador. But no, look, I wouldn't have anybody meet with Julian Assange, only because of the harm that he's done to the United States over the years and leaking classified information. I wouldn't want anything to do with someone like that who I saw as someone who is a threat to the United States and our own security. So, no, I wouldn't.

COOPER: Do you see the president pardoning Manafort?

SANTORUM: I would say if I was advising, I would say not to do so and not to even speculate about doing so.

Look, I think the president -- I understand the gets upset about these things. But everything as this investigation winds down, they are going to get closer to him because that is part of the whole process here. And if he doesn't, you know, keep some modicum of temperament, it's just -- it's just not going to play out well for him.

I don't believe the president has been involved with any collusion. I don't think he knows anything about any Russian -- by the way, I don't think -- I agree with Sarah Sanders and I don't think they have done anything to impede the investigation. The president has relatively clean hands other than the tweets that he puts out there criticizing Mueller.

I just think that he needs to let this process play out. It is going to whether he screams about it or not.


JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Look, I think when your former campaign manager and many former senior people who you have been affiliated with are under investigation, you do have your hands dirty. We'll see what happens.

The interesting player here is Julian Assange. He has been for a long time. He hasn't come up in a while. These e-mails were leaked through WikiLeaks, which we've long known.

[20:15:02] There has been a leadership change in Ecuador. So, there is a question that's been raised in a little bit of reporting as to whether Julian Assange is extradited back to the United States. And if he is, maybe there is more we could know, because also in the reporting was a reference to Russian operatives also visiting him there. So, there's maybe connections there, maybe not. There certainly is

more there. If he is extradited back, we'll probably learn more.

COOPER: There is the whole timing of the releases of the e-mails in the wake of the "Access Hollywood" tape.

PSAKI: Yes, there certainly is. As we remember from the timing as you were reporting, of course, from here, the timing, as Carrie was referencing too of kind of when the meeting was, when the tweets were going out about a reference to troubling e-mails coming out. This was all leading up to the convention. And a lot of this was dumped in times that were convenient for Trump.

So, if you line up the timeline, a lot of this looks not great for them, to put it mildly.

BORGER: We also know that Roger Stone was -- said publicly that he had a conversation with Donald Trump. That was a day after apparently he was e-mailing with Mr. Corsi about Julian Assange. So, again, to the president's temperament or mood or whatever we were talking about before, I mean, the circle is closing here. I think it's got to worry the president because he did communicate with Roger Stone. Unless Roger Stone is lying about it which is a possibility, but --

COOPER: That is the counterargument that roger stone has a lot of bluster and issues that he may not have direct knowledge.

BORGER: And not a lot of credibility. But that just adds to the list, because now, Paul Manafort has no more credibility as a witness at all because he --

CORDERO: Well, there's an entire cast of character. I mean, what we're learning is that there is an entire cast of characters here who are not credible. These are not truth telling people. They have repeatedly lied to investigators. Nearly everybody who's been charged in the special counsel's investigation has included some kind of charge of lying to federal investigators or prosecutors.

Paul Manafort experienced back when he was -- before his Virginia trial, he had been pulled back from his supervised release because he was accused of witness tampering and making false statements. He had been witness tampering, writing op-eds when he was in detention --

COOPER: Does it surprise you the number of people who have lied to investigators in this case?

CORDERO: It has been a number of people charged with lying. It speaks to the type of people. I mean, these were many people affiliated with the Trump campaign. One has to look at the campaign and say, wow, that is really a lot of people who have lied to --

COOPER: It seems out of the ordinary. I'm not a lawyer but you hear one individual lying or something. But it seems like that was the kind of go-to thing, to just lie.

CORDERO: It is and knowing that this is a major enterprise investigation, the fact that all of these people and this far into the investigation continue to lie to investigators I think is definitely notable. So, you know, that is definitely a pattern that has taken place.

COOPER: We are going to take a quick break. Coming up next, Nia- Malika touched on it a bit. The breaking news the president made when he spoke with the "Washington Post", including why he does not believe his own experts' report on global warming.

Later, the polls are closed and we'll get our first live look at the Senate runoff results in Mississippi as 360 election night coverage gets rolling.


[20:23:05] COOPER: President Trump sat down with the newspaper he loves to hate, or one of them, and gave it a real five scoop sundae of news, talking to "Washington Post." He shifted responsibility elsewhere for the falling stock market and G.M. layoffs, blaming high interest rates and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, his hand- picked Federal Reserve chairman.

I'm doing deals, he said, and I'm not being accommodated by the Fed. The president went on to say, they're making a mistake because I have a gut and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else's brain can ever tell me.

The president also said that in the wake of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, he's yet to decide whether he'll meet with Vladimir Putin of the upcoming G20 Summit. Maybe I won't, he said. We're going to see.

He also again refused to blame Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

He explained, if that's right word, his skepticism on climate change, it runs a bit long, but I want to read it so you can make up your minds about what the president said about climate change.

He says and I quote: One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence, but we're not necessarily such believers. You look at our air and our water and it's right now at a record clean.

He continued: When you look at China and you look at parts of Asia, when you look at South America, when you look at many other places in the world, including Russia, including just many other places, the air is incredibly dirty. When you're talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small and it blows over and it sails over. I mean, we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia, it just flows right down the Pacific, it flows and we say where does this come from, and it takes many people to start off with.

Our Political Director, David Chalian, joins our group. And one thing we should add about Senator Santorum, for the purposes

of the segment, he's currently a paid co-chair of a bio fuels advocacy group, Americans for Energy Security and Innovation.

David, as a whisperer of the president, can you interpret what he is saying here?


[20:25:00] Things will make so much more sense.

I can't really interpret this other than to say that he I think more vociferously than I've ever heard him do before expressed skepticism that man has anything to do with climate change.

COOPER: He's said it's a hoax in the past. That's pretty direct.

CHALIAN: That's pretty strong, but he's walked back from hoax comments. So, this to me -- if you want to disagree, give me a second.

SANTORUM: Go ahead.

CHALIAN: He, I thought, was pretty clear here that he does not at all agree with the notion that it is agreed upon by all these scientists that man contributes to climate change.

SANTORUM: I think what he was saying, I think it's clear what he was saying, I'm making some assumptions here. But I think what he was clearly saying is, look, we have done a good job in this country reducing air emissions and cleaning up things.

The places that are really bad -- India, China, and all these places, these treaties and things don't apply to them. They are not doing anything on that front. Have them clean up their act instead of trying to impose incredible restrictions on an economy that's actually a pretty energy efficient and very clean economy.

I think that's the point he is trying to make and I think that's a very legitimate point.

PSAKI: It's not legitimate. I mean, the United States and China are the two largest emitters of greenhouse gas. It's a universal global problem. And that's why we were the leaders in the climate change effort.

We were the only country now not signed on to the Paris climate agreement. So, what he's saying shows he doesn't understand the issue. I mean, his reference to other countries and their emissions shows he doesn't understand that like the sky covers all of us and what they do impacts us. What we do impacts them. So --

SANTORUM: The fact that the United States doesn't sign on to this doesn't stop China from doing things.

PSAKI: But the United States is one of the world's biggest emitters, we're in the top two in green who is gas.

COOPER: But just from an economics standpoint, the administration's own report does go into great detail about the economic costs. They say hundreds of billions of dollars lost. Farms being hardest hit.

You don't buy that?

SANTORUM: It's absurd. At the worst-case scenario they say, it's a 10 percent reduction in economic -- you can't even tell us what the GDP is going to be next year. And they're predicting because of this there's going to be a 10 percent reduction?

Let me tell you what it is. It's like 0.05 percent per year reduction in economic growth.

BORGER: So you do nothing?

SANTORUM: But the point -- the point is, it's speculative. It's almost -- I said 0.05 percent change in economic growth. You can -- that can be from any kind of elimination of regulation, improving the growth rate.

Look what Donald Trump has done in the last year to improve growth in this country. He's blown away any impact of climate change over the next 100 years --

PSAKI: There is a reason that 97 percent of scientists feel this is a huge emerging problem. Not emerging, it's been a long problem. You talk to people --

SANTORUM: All the predictions have been wrong. All of them.

PSAKI: The reality is people are seeing the impact already. It's not a problem we haven't seen. If you talk to people in the Everglades, in California, in parts of the Middle East where famine is rising because of the heat -- I mean, these are real issues that are happening now. I mean, this report --

SANTORUM: We've had famines before, we've had heat waves before.

PSAKI: The report was mandated by Congress it's increasing --


SANTORUM: No, they're not. You go back and look at weather history. I mean, there are no more hurricanes now than 100 years ago. We have had fluctuations in weather patterns forever. And the idea that the California wildfires are because of climate change, the California wildfires is because they didn't clean the floor of the forest. They didn't manage the forest.

BORGER: You're with the raking scenario --

SANTORUM: It's not a matter of raking, it's a matter of going in there and managing the forests which Republicans have been talking about for a long, long time and the strict environmentalists have said, no, leave it alone.

You leave it alone. Guess what happens?

BORGER: That may be a part of it and I think it's something everybody ought to investigate, manage the forests, but you need to look at other issues. And one thing I'm going to point out here is that this is the president's own government saying this in a unanimous way.

COOPER: What is the motivation? Are they all just lying?

SANTORUM: Look, here is the reality. I said this the other day. I have gotten -- I have become a very popular man on Twitter on the last couple of days for the comment I made about scientists making money.

There would be no chair at the head of climate studies at every university in America if we didn't have a crisis. These people make money because there is a crisis.

PSAKI: I don't think climate science is a big high money area.

SANTORUM: Twenty years ago, there were no chairs of climate science.

COOPER: Your critics will say you are also making money off of this.

SANTORUM: I'm involved with promoting ethanol which reduces CO2, by the way. So, look, I'm involved with a waste energy company that takes -- that tries to do something productive with our waste instead of sticking it in a landfall.

Look, I believe in green technology. I support green technology. But it has to be market based. And the great thing that we can do is keep the economy of this country thriving and produce more technologies that I -- look, I want my kids to live in a whole -- in a very clean and wonderful world. I don't want climate disaster, but putting government regulation over industry is not going to solve the problem. Innovation will solve.

COOPER: We're going to talk to one of the scientists who actually involved in this reporting in just minute. It is interesting, Gloria, when you hear the President talk about his gut. And -- I mean, it seems like a minor point. But I do think for this president, he does believe his gut tells him more than many people's dreams.

BORGER: Everything. And, you know, the one thing he points, of course, is how he won the election, which is that all of us were wrong, he was going to win the election. The polls were wrong. But in his gut, there were moments, of course, of doubt although he would probably never admit it. But he said, "I was going to win because I knew how the people felt out there."

And don't forget, he is a very successful entertainer. He knows how to attract audiences. He knows what works. He knows what plays. And so he trusts himself probably for some good reason. But, but, when you're talking about science, who can really trust your gut? You have to know things. I don't pretend to know all of these things and neither should the President of the United States. You have to learn. COOPER: The other thing he does, Jen, in this interview basically takes no responsibility for the G.M. layoffs, also the falling stock market, essentially laying and defeat of the Fed, obviously took a lot of credit for the rising stock market. Is that how it works?

PSAKI: Well, look, I think he recognizes that the G.M. layoffs are a huge problem for him. And he knows his own brand and his own brand is when he was running in 2016 he promised that he was going to bring back manufacturing jobs, that no -- that none of these, you know, offices that are closing would close and that's obviously not true.

And so he recognizes that and that's why he is trying to push off the blame on to G.M., he's pushing it off on to the Fed. The economy and the economy booming and having a good economy is the way he gets reelected and he certainly knows that.

I would say, look, I worked on many presidential elections, but a first election and then a reelect, it's hard when you run for reelection for a couple of reasons. One is that people look at what your record is and what you promised and whether you did it. And this is a place where white collar workers across the Midwest are going to look at his promises and say, "Well, look, my factory closed. I don't have a job."

COOPER: Isn't that an old fashioned? Isn't that an old fashioned? Do people actually look at the record anymore because they don't seem like that?

PSAKI: You know, maybe -- look, I think that this is one of the reasons why he got elected and this is the core of his substantive message and he knows this is a huge problem.

SANTORUM: Donald Trump shouldn't worry so much about G.M.. I mean, look, factories will close. I mean, I don't think he can go out -- he didn't campaign and say no factory will close. What he said is --


SANTORUM: -- that manufacturing will come back and everybody has to agree. Manufacturing has come back. We've seen the tremendous growth in that sector and I think he should have just pivoted, which is not something Donald Trump is particularly good at, but pivoted and said look at the numbers, look at the manufacturing, look at what -- look at the job creation we've created and not worry about every single factor.

BORGER: What about Ohio?

CHALIAN: Roughly (ph) G.M. and wanted to act tough on G.M. because, I think Jen is right, he understood, you are right, you can't promise that. And it's not necessarily Donald Trump's fault that this is happening, but he understood that it was politically perilous.

COOPER: All right. Thanks everybody. The polls are now closed in a runoff election in the reddest states. Up next, John King with a preview of what he is watching tonight in Mississippi. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:37:30] COOPER: The counting is underway tonight in Mississippi. We do not expected to be anywhere near complete within this hour, which is one element that's ramping up the suspense. The other is the relative lack of polling going into this and the Trump factor in race and history and a whole lot more.

Our Chief National Correspondent, John King is here to show us how it all could come together tonight. John, so the poll was just closed. What are the results so far?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very, very, very preliminary results, Anderson, about 1 percent of the precincts reporting. You see right there seven -- no, it just went up a little bit there, 9,000 votes, a little over 10,000 votes. Mike Espy holding a very narrow lead, 56 percent to 43 percent, so that's a big lead, I should say. It was smaller a little bit ago, about at 1 percent.

So read almost nothing into this, except let's just take a little bit of what we're going to see here just going to draw you a line over here. You see the little bit that is in over is coming in blue. Well, that's what has to happen for Mike Espy. This is all congressional districts. He was a former Clinton cabinet member. He was Congress back in the '90s. This was his district over here in this side of the state.

And let's go back to three weeks ago. Remember, we're having the runoff tonight. Cindy Hyde-Smith, the Republican incumbent, got 41 percent. Mike Espy, the Democratic challenger, got just below that 41 percent. The other candidate is finishing below that. Top two moved on to tonight, Mike Espy did run it up in this part of the state three weeks ago.

So this is what he has to do again tonight and I would argue by even bigger numbers because if you look at the Republican vote three weeks ago, 41 percent for the incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith, another 16 percent for Tea Party challenger, Chris McDaniel. If those Republican votes go to the Republican incumbent, it's game over.

So Espy not only has to run up the African-American vote right here, he has to somehow find a way. And let's come back to tonight's map. He has to somehow find a way to cut into the white vote, Ala. Doug Jones in Alabama last year. That's a complicated challenge. So we look at the map now. It tells us just about nothing.

Again, one of the things we're going to look at, you have to go back to way before this technology existed to find a competitive Democrat statewide in Mississippi in a Senate race, so we can't give you historical comparisons.

So let's just look up here, DeSoto County, a little shy of 6 percent of the state population. 17 percent in, Cindy Hyde-Smith getting a little over 50 percent, that's interesting if it holds, if it holds. We are very early tonight, but it's interesting. Why is it interesting? Let's just go back. Three weeks ago, Mike Espy got only 34 percent in this county. You see the Tea Party vote was 24 percent for Chris McDaniel. You would assume most of that would go here.

If it goes there, then Mike Espy can keep it competitive. But I just want to say, again, we're at 17 percent. It could come in from -- this could be mostly from a Democratic precinct so he is running close so far. In five minutes, 10 minutes, or two hours, it could be very different. So, we'll just going to watch it fill in throughout the night.

[20:40:00] Republicans think, Anderson, they think they will win this race. They think they will it by six, seven or eight points, but they're nervous that's why the President went in there twice last night.

COOPER: John King, thanks. We'll check in with you shortly. Back now with the gang. David, what are you going to be looking for just in terms of the results as they come in?

CHALIAN: Well, what John was just saying about, if the African- American turnout can be sort of supercharged in a way that that would be one thing that could keep Espy in the fight here, so that's one place I'm looking for in those heavy predominant African-American portions of the state.

Because what we saw in the midterms and what we actually saw quite frankly throughout 2017 and '18 is this ability for turnout, especially on the Democratic side in some of this contest, to be supercharged. And if indeed that can happen here, then Espy has a chance here.

But it is -- I just -- I can't wrap my head around, Anderson. We are three weeks after the election. We are just after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. For voters to be back in the mindset of what we saw three weeks ago with record-setting kind of turnout, to me I think is a very tough challenge.

COOPER: Also, I mean, you know, obviously issues of race have been involved in this campaign throughout.

HENDERSON: Yes. In Mississippi's history, right, race has been involved in campaigns, involved in politics. It's basically the dividing line in that state. It essentially determines why Republicans switch from the Democratic Party and why they're Republicans now.

You saw Mike Espy in that -- in the first campaign give out 15 percent of the white vote. He probably needs about 30 percent of the white vote to actually be competitive. And over the last many cycles, we've just seen Democrats unable to get anywhere near that in a lot of these races.

Obviously Doug Jones was able to get that in that race in Alabama. But in these southern states, it's just hard for Democrats to get white voters to vote for them. And it's also true that Democrats don't really have any infrastructure down in a state like Mississippi. It's not a state like Georgia that's been doing some ground work there, ground work there registering voters. It's really it some ways been left for dead by Democrats. And so I think that's going to really affect them tonight.

COOPER: Also, I mean there are obviously some Democrats hoping for certainly Doug Jones' style victory.

BORGER: Right. Yes, they are.

COOPER: This is a different race.

BORGER: They are. It's a very different race. I mean, first of all, you know, you look at Roy Moore who was accused as an adult of having sexual relationships with teenage girls, that's a strike against you. And even though Cindy Hyde-Smith has been a very imperfect candidate, there is nothing reaching. You know, that was a real problem for them. And this is a more rural state.

And also, the RNC, to your point, has been really getting a get out the vote effort. There was a report that they had more than 100 people on the ground today just trying to get out their voters because they don't want this to become Alabama. And it's not likely that it will, but they're really making sure that it won't.

COOPER: And this is soon not going to change the balance of power in the Senate, obviously?

SANTORUM: Well, look, you know, I think Cindy Hyde-Smith is going to win this race, but this is not it. I mean, this is not going to be a great night for Republicans. I mean, if we end up winning this by six or seven points, that is just more of the same from Election Day.

And so, again, message to the White House that, you know, this -- the side show that goes on every day in the White House has a corrosive effect on our ability to win races. And I think one of the reasons many Republicans would love the Mueller probe to just be over is just so we can get this -- that huge distraction which preoccupies the President's time and drives the media, all of us.

I mean, we'd be talking about a lot of different things, but we spent most of the time tonight talking about Donald Trump, talking about Mueller, instead of other issues that may have fit in that could have been important to drive a different message on the White House.

So it's just message to the White House, the President that the continued fixation on this scandal is having electoral consequences now with about what, 40 House seats that -- the 40 House seats. That's a wave, ladies and gentlemen. That's a wave. And this race is close, warning signs, "Danger, Will Robinson" here.

COOPER: Regardless -- I mean, history will be made tonight. If she win, she'd be the first woman elected to the Senate, to Congress from Mississippi. And obviously if he does, he'd be the first African- American U.S. senator since reconstruction.

SANTORUM: Reconstruction.

PSAKI: That's true. And, you know, it's a really interesting race for a number of reasons. One, there is -- it's a little bit of an echo. There's not a lot of Democratic activism there that's happened over the years. And Espy is somebody -- he's running -- he knows he's running in a conservative state. So even though this race is a lot about race, he has been very careful about how he's gone after Cindy Hyde-Smith. I mean, he's not gone after her much. I mean, even one of his closing ads was about how she might embarrass the state.

[20:45:02] It wasn't about how she was a person who was racist to where we're going to send to the Senate. So as I think everybody on the panel has alluded to here, he needs to have huge African-American turnout. He hasn't really tapped into that issue. He is an African- American candidate, of course, which would make history.

He's brought in Kamala Harris, he's brought in Cory Booker, but Barack Obama did a robocall. But whether surrogates can transfer and energize the African-American, you know, population there right after Thanksgiving is such very difficult to do, so.

COOPER: All right. I want to thank everybody. We're going to keep watching, keep it posted obviously on that race.

Coming up also, why would the President's national security adviser -- why wouldn't the President's national security adviser listen to the audio recording of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. You would think that would maybe be something he would do. He says he didn't do it because he doesn't speak Arabic? Well, is that make any sense? We'll ask former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper next.


COOPER: The National Security Adviser John Bolton is dismissing the idea that he should hear a key piece of intelligence in the murder of "Washington Post" journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. President Trump has already said he isn't going to listen to the audio tape that captured part Khashoggi's murder saying it's a suffering tape.

Today at the White House press briefing, Bolton was asked if he listened to the recording.


JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No, I haven't listened to it. And I guess I should ask you why do you think I should? What do you think I'll learn from it?

[20:50:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you're the National Security Adviser, you might have access to that sort of intelligence.

BOLTON: How many in this room speak Arabic?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't have access to an interpreter?

BOLTON: Well, you want me to listen to it, what I'm going to learn from -- I mean, if they were speaking Korean, I wouldn't learn any more from it either.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An interpreter would be able to tell you what's going on.

BOLTON: Well, then I can read a transcript too.


COOPER: Joining me now is former Director of National Intelligence and CNN National Security Analyst, retired Lieutenant General James Clapper, author of "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence."

Does what John Bolton makes sense to you? I mean, what he -- though he may not speak Arabic, if you hear the death cries of somebody or this, you know, the sound that somebody being strangled to death or dismembered, it's not poignant (ph), but it may be informative in terms of learning actually what happened.

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, as an intelligence guy, I would certainly want to listen to the tape, not for voyeuristic purposes, but as important as this incident was, it seems to me if you were really insidiously pursuing every scrap of information, every morsel of data that would cast light on what happened that you would want to listen to that tape regardless of the language just, you know, to hear the emotion and, you know, the atmospherics of the last moments of somebody's life.

COOPER: Even just from a journalistic standpoint, I mean, if you cared to know about what actually happened, I don't -- reading a transcript where the event says indistinct muffled sound, you don't get, you know, the sense of how quickly all this happened, how long it went, whatever.

CLAPPER: Well, you know, the point he was trying to make, I guess, in literal unemotional context that he doesn't speak Arabic or understand Arabic so he wouldn't learn anything. Well, I think you would. And again, as an intelligence guy, I would want to dwell on every morsel of information I could that would cast light on the whole event.

COOPER: One of the things that the President has said in that interview with "The Washington Post" is that he asserted that the CIA did not affirmatively say that it was the crown prince who ordered the killing of Khashoggi. That's not necessarily how the CIA works, is it?

CLAPPER: Well, no, it isn't. And I think this is illustrative, pretty good illustration of the -- what I would call the elastic evidentiary bar that often used by the administrations, specifically by the President. When the intelligence community comes out and says they have high confidence in an assessment, you can take that to the bank.

Short of a video reflecting with audio, reflecting Mohammed bin Salman giving the order to kill the journalist, you're probably not going to get that. But I'm sure that the compilation and correlation of data from several sources, plus an understanding of how things work in Saudi Arabia, I think it led to that high confidence level that Mohammed bin Salman not only was implicated, was acquiescence, was knowledgeable, but directed this killing.

COOPER: It's unthinkable given how Saudi Arabia works that this huge team involving a surgeon, you know, a hit squad, would have carte blanche to walk into a Saudi Embassy with people who are the right- hand people of Mohammed bin Salman.

CLAPPER: I mean on its face just the circumstantial evidence in and of itself is very compelling, and it's just completely unrealistic or people are gullible to think that didn't have some connection with Mohammed bin Salman who oversees all things big and small in the republic.

COOPER: Bob Corker who is Republican basically is calling on the CIA director to come and brief senators on the killing. There's no indication that she's going to and Bolton was asked about that today. He denies that she's being blocked from doing so. But should she go? I mean --

CLAPPER: Absolutely. I think anytime there's an event like this that has huge implications, you know, for the relationship, and as heavily dependent on intelligence for our insight into what happened, there should be a senior, either Gina Haspel and/or Dan -- Director of Central Intelligence Agency, or Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence.

COOPER: So why don't they want her to go?

CLAPPER: Well, you can surmise that perhaps the intelligence evidence is so compelling that the administration doesn't want to share that with Congress.

COOPER: They want to bury this? They don't want this to be --

CLAPPER: Well, that's one inference you can draw. I don't know, but that's the obvious conclusion.

COOPER: Director Clapper, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it as always.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: I want to check with in with Chris to see what he's working on for "CUOMO PRIME TIME" at the top of the hour. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, buddy. We're going to piggy back on the election results. As we know, that were about an hour passed the polls being closed down there in Mississippi, so the numbers are going to start coming in. We're not going to see exit polls, we're going to see real percentages of the vote. And as they come in, we'll follow your lead and we'll be reporting that for people in real time.

[20:55:09] We're also going to go very deep on these e-mails that CNN obtained and these pleadings from the government about Mr. Corsi, Jerome -- Dr. Jerome Corsi, a friend/associate, let's say, of Roger Stone and what pieces of the puzzle of the probe we now understand much better. And then, of course, there's this massive speculation surrounding Paul Manafort, we'll get into that as well.

COOPER: All right, Chris, that report on about four minutes from now. Thanks.

The 12th annual CNN Heroes, an all-star tributes coming up December 9th. You can find outlet about this year's top 10 CNN Heroes and vote for the Hero of the Year at Since today is giving Tuesday, we also wanted to show you how you can help some of these heroes continue their work, so take a look.


COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper. Each of this year's top 10 CNN Heroes really proves that one person can make a difference. And again, this year we're making it easy for you to support their great work.

Just go to and click, "Donate," beneath any 2018 top 10 CNN Hero to make a direct contribution to that hero's fundraiser on crowd rise. You'll receive an e-mail confirming your donation which is tax deductible in the United States. No matter the amount, you can make a big difference in helping our heroes continue their life- changing work.

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COOPER: We began the hour with the Russia investigation. We end with new breaking news. "The New York Times" has it. Our CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman shares the byline. The lead is striking.

One of Paul Manafort's attorneys repeatedly briefed President Trump's lawyers on Manafort's discussions with federal investigators after he agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller. The "Times" attributes it to one of the President's lawyers and two others familiar with the conversations. Now according to the "Times" report, some legal experts speculated that this was a bid by Manafort for a presidential pardon.

A reminder, don't miss "Full Circle," it's our daily interactive newscast on Facebook. It's new. You get to vote on some of the stories we cover. You get all the details. Watch it weeknights, 6:25 p.m. Eastern at

News continues, I want to hand it over to my buddy, Chris Cuomo, "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts now. Chris?

CUOMO: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo, welcome to "Prime Time" on another big election night. No more speculating, the polls have closed in Mississippi. The vote is coming in right now. This is the final Senate race of the 2018 midterm.