Skip to main content

tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  December 10, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

9:00 pm
ingenious space- neat nest™ by fasaving design. all designed to stack and protect the lids, and the pan surface. farberware neat nest™. stacked & intact™ good evening, thanks for joining us. we begin tonight with breaking news. another plea deal and this time it's a russian. accused russian spy maria butina is now cooperating with federal prosecutors after agreeing to a plea deal according to a source familiar with the matter. this is separate from the robert mueller investigation, but the
9:01 pm
news comes on a day when there are new and looming questions hanging over the presidency after friday night's court filings from mueller and the southern district of new york. from court filings, public statements, and reporting from cnn and other news outlets, we now know that at least 16 associates of candidate trump had contacts with russians during the campaign. the president and his associates repeatedly denied any contacts with russians during the campaign, of course, and transition. for more now on the how the new plea deal with the accused russian spy maria butina may fit into what is now becoming an intricate puzzle, we go to sara murray in washington. what do we know about this plea deal? >> first of all, it's not final. they had the outlet of a plea deal, but nothing is done until they show up in court wednesday and the judge accepts it. but the cooperation is very interesting. maria butina is someone prosecutors say was working here in the united states, she was infiltrating gop political circles, ingratiating herself with the national rifle
9:02 pm
association and doing all of that to advance russians interests. they're going to be interested in her contacts with her handlers, one of those alexander torsion who was a banker in moscow. he stepped down from that position. they're going to want to know more about that. they also want to know about her relationship with another american. this is a man named paul ericson, a man she said was her boyfriend. and they want to know his role in her plot here in washington as well as whether he may have committed fraud in south dakota. he's under investigation there too, anderson. >> this is the same woman who asked a question of then-candidate trump during the campaign, which i want to play for our viewers. >> i'm visiting from russia, so my question -- >> good friend of obama, putin. he likes obama a lot. go ahead. >> if you would be elected as president, what will be your foreign politics, especially in the relationships with my country, and do you want to continue the politics of sanctions that are damaging both economies, or do you have any other ideas?
9:03 pm
>> okay. obama gets along with nobody. the whole world hates us. i know putin, and i'll tell you what, we get along with putin. i believe i would get along nicely with putin, okay? >> he didn't know putin. he never met putin. anyway, do we know the significance of that question and how candidate trump just happened to pick her of all the people out of the crowd? was that just a coincidence? >> we don't have any indication it was anything other than coincidence that he called on this woman who is now being accused of being a russian spy. it was so early in the presidential campaign for then-candidate trump to be weighing in on issues with russia and it gives us an early look into how donald trump wanted to have a friendlier relationship with putin, a friendlier relationship with moscow and obviously we've seen that narrative last for years now, anderson. >> i know putin. sarah murphy, thanks very much.
9:04 pm
this news is breaking the middle of what seems to be an increasingly perilous time for the president. you can judge by two tweets today, a duo of phonetic missives filled with misdirection and inaccuracies. and i'm quoting here, democrats can't find a smocking gun tying the trump campaign with russia after james comey's testimony. no smocking gun, no collusion at fox news because there was no collusion. now the dems go a simple transaction. even if it was, it's only a civil case like obama's, but it was done correctly by a lawyer, and there would not even be a fine. lawyer's liability if he made a mistake, not me. witch-hunt. it's not the dems, it's the southern district of new york. it's not a simple private transaction as president trump said right there, it's multiple alleged felony hush payments. one to a former playboy play mate. the other porn star when the president and the people around
9:05 pm
him have repeatedly lied about over and over again. once again, we don't know about collusion, but some may be tempted to say where there's smock, there's fire. it's an old saying. joining us now is cnn chief white house correspondent jim acosta. so jim, what are you learning about where the president's head is right now about these smocking payments? >> it's pretty smocky over here at the white house tonight. i did talk to a source close to the president who said earlier this evening that the president has expressed concern that he could be impeached over some of these issues that you just talked about. he has said it's a, quote, real possibility according to the source. but at this point he doesn't see it as being certain. you saw in that tweet where he refers to these payments as being a transaction. that obviously is simplifying things a great deal because michael cohen has said he believes and he has said that he was directed to make those payments by the president.
9:06 pm
now, where things go from here, i talked to other sources close to the white house, one source says they do believe there are advisers inside the white house that the one item that could stick with this president are these alleged campaign finance violations. these campaign financial crimes that have been alleged in the michael cohen case. but at this point they don't believe inside the white house that it's going to be enough to get a conviction in the senate and a removal from office vote in the senate. might be enough in a democratic house, but they don't think it will trigger the bipartisan support for impeachment in the house that could trigger very serious action over in the senate for the president, anderson. >> also continuing to say no collusion whatsoever. >> that's right. just a very important caveat in all of this, when we talk to sources over here who say the president is concerned about impeachment, they are basing all these comments on what they
9:07 pm
think they know right now. so some of this is wishful thinking. so when the president goes out and repeats these talking points, no collusion and so on, that is based on essentially redacted documents coming from the special counsel's office, some of which we saw friday night. so at this point i think a lot of this goes back to what donald rumsfeld back during the bush administration, there are no knowns and no unknowns, and at this point people inside the white house recognize they just don't know what robert mueller is going to do and they can base what they think going to happen at this point on what they understand to be the case. but obviously robert mueller is not really finished with his investigation at this point. but it is important to know i did talk to a source who expressed to advisers that he does think impeachment is a real possibility. he just doesn't know if it's certain at this point. >> is that a protester drum somewhere in the distance i'm hearing? >> it is. there is music being played out
9:08 pm
on pennsylvania avenue. don't see any smock or smoke as some might call it over here. >> i just want to make sure the drum isn't being played in the white house itself. >> no, there is a steady drum beat in washington, but tonight it's just protesters. >> jim acosta, thank you so much. the question is what democrats in congress do with these allegations. democrat jerry nadler was asked if it's proven the president colluded with michael cohen to commit these felonies, would they be impeachable offenses. >> they would be impeachable offenses whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question, but certainly they would be impeachable offices because even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office. that would be an impeachable offense. >> with me is democratic congressman ted deutsche of florida. congressman, thanks for being with us. are these in your opinion
9:09 pm
impeachable offenses, and if so, are they enough to justify an impeachment? >> thanks for having me, anderson. look, here's what we've learned over the past few days. we have learned that there is now evidence that the president of the united states engaged in a felony to obtain the office of president, that there's further -- that's in the payments to these women, accusers. then there's further evidence now of the use of his corporations to pay them off, thus the coverup. when you look at those two things, you realize why the president is facing such pressure now and why the president is at risk of both political jeopardy and in criminal jeopardy. these are felonies that we're talking about. as it relates to impeachment, anderson, the constitution couldn't be any clearer. impeachment is the appropriate
9:10 pm
remedy for bribery, treason, high crimes and misdemeanors. it speaks for itself. we have to look at what robert mueller delivers to us, the american people will review it, but there's every reason for the president to be very concerned about what continues to come out of this investigation as it relates to him, his legal jeopardy, and the potential for things to get worse for him. >> what is the difference between an impeachable offense and one that justifies an impeachment? are there crimes a president can commit that should be overlooked? >> no, of course not. no one is above the law, and i think that point is particularly important when you look at those tweets that the president put out today. those simple private transactions that he referred to, the criminal code is full of simple private transactions, and if you're guilty of one of them, in this case, a felony that may have been committed in order for
9:11 pm
him to become president, then he has to be held accountable. the whole process of impeachment is a political decision, which is why we have to wait, i believe, until the mueller report comes out. so we know from a fraction of what we've seen how this is, but we have not yet seen the totality which there's every reason to believe when you look at the potential obstruction of justice we've already seen, the dangling of pardon for manafort, the potential obstruction by firing comey, there's so much more that we have yet to see that i think is going to provide the blueprint for what congress does next. >> i want to play something that your colleague congressman adam schiff said over the weekend for our viewers. >> sure. >> my takeaway is there's a real prospect that on the day donald trump leaves office, the justice department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.
9:12 pm
>> i wonder what you make of that. does it behoove democrats at all at this point to be talking about possible prison time once they leave office? >> i don't think it's unreasonable to make clear what the president himself has said, what democrats and republicans alike say over and over and to make sure it has meaning, that no one is above the law. if the president engaged in felonies, if he committed felonies in order to win the white house, further if he committed felonies to cover up those crimes in order to win the white house, then those felonies, if it turns out that that's what happened, of course the president has to be held accountable. that's what adam schiff was saying. certainly it's consistent with what everyone believes about the way this country should work. no one is above the law. >> a lot of house democrats have been talking about their committees investigating various aspects of the president.
9:13 pm
where is the line between holding a president accountable and going on to use one of the president's favorite phrases, a witch-hunt that might backfire on democrats? >> well, congress has a responsibility to provide oversight, anderson. that's our job. unfortunately for the past two years the republican leadership on the judiciary committee has instead seen its job as -- there's been a refusal to actually provide the necessary oversight that the constitution requires us to provide. so it's not -- we shouldn't be guided by how the president characterizes anything in tweets. we ought to be guided by the facts, by the indictments, by the lies that we've seen by this president about his connections to russia. that's what has to guide us, not what the president chooses to tweet out in a moment of real concern about himself and his future.
9:14 pm
>> congressman ted deutsche, appreciate your time, thank you. >> thanks, anderson. >> a lot more to talk about. jeff, i want to start with the breaking news tonight that the person being accused of being a russia spy, maria butina, is cooperating with federal prosecutors. at least there's a deal on the table. how significant is that? >> well, it depends what she knows and who she had contact with. obviously it is significant, yet another person in the trump orbit, in particular, someone who was closely associated with the national rifle association, she is pleading guilty to a serious crime. it's not espionage, but it's failing to register as a foreign agent. and she was in touch with all sorts of people, including asking that very significant question at that press conference in 2015 of the
9:15 pm
president. did she have contact with the trump campaign? what did they know? who paid her? where did that money go? all of that presumably now federal prosecutors will learn because she has agreed to cooperate. >> jeff, turning to the president's tweets about his payments, he calls them simple private transactions. are those the words you would use? >> i would not use that. remember the timing of these private transactions. they were within weeks of election day. i think we all can imagine how politically explosive it would have been if either or both of these women had come forward. so this was campaign money. this was money going to elect donald trump. that's why michael cohen had to plead guilty to a crime because they didn't treat it in the way campaign contributions are supposed to be treated. whether he will have to go to prison because of this, it's a bit premature.
9:16 pm
but to say they are simple contracts between two people is far, far from the truth. >> steve, do you believe these were simple private transactions? >> i agree with jeffrey. i have to push back on that point because i think had these been revealed, and we don't know of course, it's a hypothetical. let's say it had been revealed, let's say mcdougal a decade before said she had an affair with then candidate trump. do you really believe that would have swayed the election. none of us on team trump or the 63 million who voted for him thought they were voting for francis of assisi. >> why didn't they make it public? >> because it was not a campaign contribution. and the fec is very clear on this. the law is clear on this.
9:17 pm
if the expenditure can be reasonably be made irrespective of the campaign, and there's a lot of reasons why you would want these women to keep these stories private. there are many, many reasons outside of politics you would do that, and the fec is clear it's not a campaign contribution. >> it's just an incredible coincidence the money happened to change hands just on the eve of the election? >> no. listen, that's a good point, but that part is not coincidental because the reason there was an impetus for them to come forward was the fact that donald trump was achieving fame even though he was already a famous person. he was achieving fame like he had never seen once he became the republican nominee. so that encouraged them to come out, but that doesn't mean there weren't several reasons why, personal life, business life, politics, you would want this to stay confidential and that
9:18 pm
doesn't make it a campaign contribution. it's legal and allowed. >> carrie, how do you see this? >> i think, anderson, that the campaign finance part of it and the payments to the women is somewhat of a distraction from the big issue with the coordination of rush government and russian government surrogates. if we take the big special counsel investigation, i understand that the southern district of new york has a responsibility to enforce the law, and they obviously believe that they have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding on the merits of a campaign finance case. and so i think it's possible that the president has potential criminal exposure for it perhaps when he leaves office at some point in the future. but from the documents that were filed on friday, i think the more important parts from the national security's perspective and from a future potential impeachment proceeding perspective, is the fact that michael cohen coordinated his statements, his lying statements to congress and to the special
9:19 pm
counsel's office with others, and paul manafort was apparently either in touch or trying to be in touch with the trump administration up until early 2018. and so what we're learning is that there were so many different contacts between the campaign and russian government officials and russian surrogates and trump campaign officials in those now in the administration have been trying to cover it up. and so the question becomes why were they trying to hide the moscow project? why have they been lying to congress? why have they actually coordinated their lying statements? and so from the sper expeperspee of potential jeopardy for the presidency, i think it's all the obstruction of justice and potentially what's revealed about whether or not they actually coordinated with russian efforts to affect the election. >> we haven't heard from robbie yet. we will also have more on the possibility of impeachment. also why the president is said to be, and i'm quoting here,
9:20 pm
super pissed. another one said he's humiliated and this is not directly related to the russia investigation or the hush money payments for his alleged affairs. details ahead. i like chillaxin'. the united explorer card makes things easy. traveling lighter. taking a shortcut. woooo! taking a breather. rewarded! learn more at the explorer card dot com. this is big! t-mobile is offering the awesome iphone xr, with an unlimited plan, for just $40 bucks a month. unlimited. with the new iphone xr?! yeah! iphone xr included.
9:21 pm
for $40 bucks?! that is big.
9:22 pm
you don't need to go anywhere dad, this is your home. the best home to be in is your own. home instead offers personalized in-home services for your loved ones. home instead senior care. to us, it's personal.
9:23 pm
home instead senior care. ...and i found out that i'ma from the big toe lian. of that sexy italian boot! so this holiday season it's ancestrydna per tutti! order your kit now at ancestry.com i've done all sorts of research, read earnings reports, looked at chart patterns. i've even built my own historic trading model. and you're still not sure if you want to make the trade? exactly.
9:24 pm
sounds like a case of analysis paralysis. is there a cure? td ameritrade's trade desk. they can help gut check your strategies and answer all your toughest questions. sounds perfect. see, your stress level was here and i got you down to here, i've done my job. call for a strategy gut check with td ameritrade. ♪ the president of the united states cease it as a possibility he could be impeached after the democrats take control of the house. the source also saying the president isn't certain it will happen but he's expressed concern. back with the panel. at the same time we're hearing the president thinks there's a possibility he could be impeached, there's also reporting the white house is adopting a shrug shoulder strategy for the mueller findings. they believe most of the gop-based voters will believe whoever the president tells them to believe. do you think they're right? >> i worried they're right to be honest with you.
9:25 pm
i want to pick up on a point carrie made just before the break, that if we focus on all these details sometimes we lose the bigger picture. i think the scope of what's going on here, both the degree to which the trump campaign was committing crimes, the degree the president was part of those crimes but also the nra, other republican groups, i think that's going to continue to expand. if we get bogged down in all the individual constituent pieces, we're going to lose sight that we had a major national security incident. these influences may still be embedded in our political fabric here in our country, and that should be really disturbing to anybody. so i think everybody needs to wake up, pull back, look at the big picture, and then obviously we need to wait and see what sort of details are in mueller's report and we need to track these other indictments and investigations that are going on
9:26 pm
through the u.s. attorney's office. >> steve, to that point, does it raise any concerns with you that i think by cnn's count now 16 people in trump world had contacts with russians? either during the campaign or transition? >> right. my answer is yes and no. do we need more light shined upon that, i believe we do. yes, there's some worry there. some of it is not worrisome at all for instance it was during the transition when it's normal to have conversations with foreign powers. we need to learn more, and i would say to those of us who support the president, we can't be complacent, clearly. it's not time to have an exoneration party. but i would also caution those who can't stand the president, including a lot of people in congress who are ready to put him in a cell, i would caution them that we haven't seen anything even close to criminality. but look, i do think to your opening point, i think at this point impeachment is a given.
9:27 pm
i believe that before the election if the democrats took control, now they've taken control. i think that's a fait accompli. it is happening. i think the white house and those of us who support the trump agenda, we need to prepare for the legal and communication strategy to take on impeachment and to eventually, i think, turn it into a positive once we get to the senate. that is the reality. i'm not sure the white house gets that yet. >> that is absolutely absurd to say that impeachment is a certainty. i've spoken to a lot of the people involved here, the democrats know that in 1998 the republicans impeached bill clinton knowing full well he would never get removed from office. there were never going to be 67 votes in the senate, and the democrats have vowed not to repeat that mistake. they're not going to repeat that mistake. there is no support for going forward with impeachment among the leadership of the house democrats under current circumstances. so the idea that impeachment is a certainty is just absurd.
9:28 pm
it's just like trying to gin up the republican base. >> to build on what jeffrey is saying -- >> i don't disagree on your logic, but that would assume they are basing the vote on the law. because it's a political proceeding and their entire agenda, they don't have an agenda outside of resistance to this president. because they are defined by resistance, they will vote for impeachment. i agree with you ultimately it will backfire on them, but they're heading there. to me it's a certainty. >> if i can just level set here, the job of members of congress, what they are paid to do in part is oversight of the executive branch. the republicans for almost two years now have completely abdicated that responsibility. they have not done their job. they've cheated the taxpayers by not doing their job. democrats are going to be committed to doing the oversight, which is very badly needed. but to jeffrey's point, democrats are not going to go
9:29 pm
out way on a limb and vote to impeach this president. it's too early to even talk about impeachment right now. we don't even have mueller's report. i think democrats need to be cautious about suggesting that. but once we have the facts, a determination will be made, and i promise you this, democrats will not give republicans the luxury of abdicating their responsibility again. democrats will wait day in and day out, demand that republicans do what is their constitutional duty, join with democrats, and hold the administration accountable. >> carrie, for those who believe that a president can't be indicted, say he's a participant in an extraordinary serious crime of some sort, something far more serious than campaign violations, they believe he still cannot be indicted, correct? >> the prevailing legal opinion from the justice department is that a sitting president cannot be indicted while he's sitting. so there could be a sealed indictment that would then come forward once he left office. but there also is an argument, i think, a new opinion could be written that would take into account the way this president conducts himself in office. in other words, a significant
9:30 pm
part of the original olc opinions that were issued by the justice department, which are historical and there was one written in the nixon years, another one that's authoritative that was written in the clinton years, talk about the fact that an indictment would affect the president into not being able to carry out his duties. this president as a factual matter spends a lot of his time actually doing things that are not presidential. tweeting, executive time, golfing, all of those things. and i actually think there's an argument that that could play against the historical interpretation. in any event, i think there is a strong argument that politically, because impeachment is a political matter, the democrats in congress are not going to want to proceed on these payments to the women. what does matter is whether or not there was a coordinated obstruction effort, whether the president lied in his written answers to the special counsel, and whether or not it turns out that the trump campaign coordinated any of the efforts with the russian government
9:31 pm
which we already know through the indictments tried to affect the election. those are matters that republicans will have a very hard time turning away from. >> jeff, very quickly, you were on this program a couple months ago saying the kavanaugh appointment was basically the beginning of the unraveling of roe v. wade. today kavanaugh sided with the liberal justice on a planned parenthood case. do you still believe in light of how he sided today? >> i absolutely did. it wasn't even an opinion in the case. he didn't write an opinion. keep your eyes peeled for abortion cases. they don't want to engage. that's what really the message was today from the six justices in the majority. they don't want to engage on the subject of abortion yet. but donald trump is going to get what he wanted from neil gorsuch and kavanaugh. >> all right, thanks, everyone. while the mueller investigation continues sources say the president is frustrate, humiliated and i'm quoting here,
9:32 pm
super pissed. more on that in a moment. bring all the gifts for under the tree and while you're at it... bring the tree. ford f-150 best-in-class payload. best-in-class towing. built for the holidays. bring home the f-150 with zero percent financing for 72 months. only at your ford dealer.
9:33 pm
9:34 pm
for 72 months. amazonso when youo is say words like,x1. show me best of prime video. into this... you'll see awesome stuff like this. discover prime originals
9:35 pm
like the emmy-winning the marvelous mrs. maisel, tom clancy's jack ryan, and the man in the high castle. all in the same place as your live tv. it's all included with you amazon prime membership. that's how xfinity makes tv, simple. easy. awesome. ingenious space- neat nest™ by fasaving design. all designed to stack and protect the lids, and the pan surface. farberware neat nest™. stacked & intact™ there is breaking news in the search for new white house chief of staff. multiple sources say president trump is frustrated with how it is going. one source even saying the president is super pissed and humiliated after he was turned
9:36 pm
down by the vice president's chief of staff, nick ayers. he's not the only one saying thanks but no thanks. several are saying they are not interested. the job itself brings its own challenges but in this chaotic white house whoever replaces john kelly faces an even tougher mission with a looming democrat house. joining me are obama white house veteran david alex rod and gloria borger. i know you have new reporting on how the president is dealing with this entire process. >> he's frustrated, he's not happy. i was told he feels somewhat humiliated by the way this has played out publicly. this is a president who says the best people want to work for my administration and suddenly you want to offer a very high level job that most people would jump at in any other administration, and he gets turned down and everybody knows about it and he doesn't have any plan b. and so he's not happy. >> david, it is hard to kind of,
9:37 pm
you know, reconcile a president who says he only hires the best and the brightest and the smartest people out there, and there are backlogs of people who want to work for his administration with the reality. >> yeah, i have one word for him, anderson, craigslist. i mean, nobody wants this job. there's a reason for that. who has left this administration save maybe nikki haley, who has left this administration with their reputation intact? people watch what's going on and, more than that, they anticipate what the next couple of years are going to be like. if they're smart, they understand that there may be a suggestion they can control what happens in that white house, but there's only one person who controls what happens in that white house, and he is an unmanageable client, and that's the president of the united states. so for all those reasons, people
9:38 pm
are changing their numbers, going on a long vacation, doing anything they can to avoid his call right now. >> gloria, to david's point, both the combination of a horrible working environment just in terms of how the place is set up, unlike any other white house, certainly, than in modern times, and the potential for long-term career damage. >> right. i'm told that was part of nick ayers' calculation. you're kind of stepping into the unknown here because you don't know what's going to unfold with the mueller investigation. do you want to be on top of that? do you want to suddenly -- >> or buried under it. >> right. do you want to do that? i sort of doubt it, ayers wanted to be there for a short period of time and the president wanted someone like ayers who has political sensibilities because the president actually understands what he's heading into for the next two years with the democratically controlled house, and with the mueller investigation.
9:39 pm
and he always criticized kelly for not having political sensibility. but i think ayers had enough political sensibility to say no way i'm stepping into this mess. >> is there any indication the president wants someone who is good at running the west wing, dealing with congress, doing everything the job traditionally entails, or do you think helmets someone spoiling for a political fight, potentially an impeachment fight, or someone who's just going to kowtow to his every wish? >> i think it's a combination of those things. but there was a tell he wants ayers in that job because he's using the next two years as a long fight for re-election through difficult circumstances, and he wants someone who has the political sophistication to kind of meld the white house with his political operations to try and save his political career. i think he misses the other piece of this, which is that the incoming from congress is going to be very, very intense. as you guys have mentioned,
9:40 pm
mueller seems to be breathing down his neck. and that is a huge, huge managerial problem for whomever takes that job. but i maintain the biggest problem is still the fact that you may be able to manage down to some degree, although you plainly can't manage the president's daughter and her husband who are key players there. but what you absolutely can't do is manage up, because donald trump is going to tweet, he is going to speak, he is going to do all those things that he thinks got him here. and in this situation and environment, that's a very perilous thing, so you're left there helpless but with a big title. >> you know, and trump wants to be his own chief of staff. he wants to be his own lawyer, too. do you think his lawyers like that he's tweeting about mueller? of course not. he will continue doing what he wants to do and there's no way to control him. so he's his own chief of staff. he just needs somebody to run
9:41 pm
the ship maybe. >> gloria borger and david axelrod, thank you. up next, more about our latest reporting on the number of associates of president trump who had contact with russians during the campaign or transition when "360" continues. i'm ken jacobus and i switched to the spark cash card from capital one. i earn unlimited 2% cash back on everything i buy. and last year, i earned $36,000 in cash back. which i used to offer health insurance to my employees. what's in your wallet? voice-command navigation with waze wifi wireless charging 104 cubic feet of cargo room and seating for 8. now that's a sleigh. ford expedition. built for the holidays. and for a limited time, get zero percent financing plus twelve hundred and fifty dollars ford credit bonus cash on ford expedition.
9:42 pm
ford credit bonus cash once i started looking for it was a no-brainer. i switched to geico and saved hundreds. that's a win. but it's not the only reason i switched. the geico app makes it easy to manage my policy. i can pay my bill, add a new driver, or even file a claim. woo, hey now! that's a win-win. thank you! switch to geico®. it's a win-win.
9:43 pm
9:44 pm
back to our breaking news.
9:45 pm
at the top of the hour accused russian spy maria butina is cooperating with federal prosecutors after agreeing to a plea deal according to sources particular familiar with the matter. it comes after new filings in the russia probe and from the southern district of new york on friday. as we mentioned earlier by cnn's count, we know of at least 16 associates of candidate trump who had contact with russians during the campaign or the transition. this comes from public statements from court filings and reporting from cnn and other news outlets. as we touched on already, all of this even as the president's associates repeatedly denied any contacts with russians or contacts during the campaign or the transition. joining me for their take is tom hamburger of "the washington post" and steve hall, a retired cia chief of operations and a cnn national securities analyst. yet another russian who had been trying to influence the political system according to authorities. who she was influencing and how
9:46 pm
she was doing it, that we really still don't know, is that correct? >> it's certainly not clear. we do know she's changing her plea. what exactly she's pleading to and who she influenced precisely, we don't know. she met some of the presidential candidates during the campaign. >> steve, it's certainly not every day that an alleged russian spy agrees to a plea deal and starts cooperating with federal prosecutors. >> yeah, anderson. i've heard a couple commentators talk recently about eight years ago the group of ten russian illegals that were caught, arrested and russian spies, i think this is little bit different. maria butina in my mind is not a formal illegal. she probably doesn't work directly for the russian intelligence services, but she's rather a co-optee. i think that's why you're seeing
9:47 pm
the legal path she's going down right now as opposed to a spy swap like we saw back in 2000 with the illegals at that time. >> you're saying if she was actually an intelligence officer or directly working for one of the intelligence services in russia, that it would more likely there would be some sort of swap? >> it would have gone very differently from a legal perspective. i don't think she would have been in jail for as long and the russians would have been more aggressive about cutting some sort of diplomatic or some sort of spy deal. >> tom, of all the trump associates who did have contact with russians during the campaign, right now it's 16 by cnn's count, it's easy to get mired in the details of this. but that's just not normal, is it? >> it is not normal, and that's what we've heard from people involved with presidential campaigns going back to reagan. of course presidential campaigns
9:48 pm
have contacts with foreign officials. trevor potter, who was the counsel to the john mccain campaign in 2008 said, yes, there were contacts they had with foreign officials but it was always done through cooperation with the state department. there was transparency, and he added never did the discussions have to do with personal business deals or the candidate's personal political outlook. >> steve, talk a bit about how the russian intelligence services actually work. particularly looking at michael cohen and his contacts with russians, what we know about them so far. is that typical russian operations? >> it bears a lot of the hallmarks. if you look at the information released on friday by the mueller's office, it's a nice case in a nutshell. we know that the russians were casting a wide net when they were looking at the trump team and the trump campaign.
9:49 pm
so they knew that cohen had the access because he was the personal lawyer and he also had an e-mail that was associated with the trump campaign. we knew that he was deeply in debt, so he had vulnerabilities and motivations that the russians could take advantage of. and perhaps most importantly, and this is sort of a common thing with these over a dozen people now that have been associated with russia, is the approach to him that was quite reasonable. it wasn't, hi, i'm from the russian government. let's talk about trump. let's talk about synergy with our governments and talk about the relationship. that's an interesting way. but it's a very nonthreatening way. it's an innocent way to start down that path. >> the willingness of trump aides to engage for what appears to be a wide variety of reasons, certainly seems like russia took notice of that early on and from an intelligence standpoint, that's the kind of thing you
9:50 pm
would want to make the most of. >> well, one of the things that people involved with previous campaigns made clear to us is that the number of contacts and the nature were both unusual. so as steve was just saying, you had some contacts that initiated around trump tower moscow. quickly energy gets imposed. by one of the russian nationals in touch with cohen. felix seeder working with cohen to build a trump tower moscow talked about it as an opportunity for economic gain. and to achieve a long sought goal by the trump organization. but also a chance to help boost donald trumps presidential ambition. putting donald trump and vladimir putin perhaps on stage at the ground breaking at the same time. >> i appreciate you being with us. thank you. check in with chris. cuomo "prime time." >> this is just such a wild
9:51 pm
atmosphere that we're living in. it's impossible to plan the show. because things break late. jim acosta saying yes the president is ruminating/worrying/whatever verb. about what democrats are going to do with respect to impeachment. she is worried. just so happened tonight part of the plan of the show was to give the president good reason to worry. this "new york times" op-ed by a former white house counsel. about what obstruction is. that duck tails with what you were saying about what is seen and unseen. what is could mean in obstruction. there's a conversation we have had very little because we don't really know anything about beyond the obvious. with comey. now we're learning more. those 16 contacts. associates with contacts. it's leading to a new tendency for the probe. that must be aharming to the
9:52 pm
president. a letter from 40 senators came out to the colleagues in office. with all this language. i'll read it on the show. i have never read a letter like this before. that all happened in 15 minutes. looking at your handsome face. >> see you in eight minutes. little question. president trump has a solid base of supporters. is one portion of that base now maybe shakier after one of the latest presidential tweets? we'll explore that. as a home instead caregiver, for everything that i give, i get so much in return. join our family of home instead caregivers and help make a world of difference. home instead senior care. apply today.
9:53 pm
♪ the greatest wish of all... is one that brings us together. the lincoln wish list event is here. sign and drive off in a new lincoln with $0 down, $0 due at signing, and a complimentary first month's payment. only at your lincoln dealer. and a complimentary first month's payment. [[clap, clap]] ♪ hey, jen, which tie says, "trustworthy but also fun"? gold down, oil up. oil down, gold up. this is too busy. we need to make sure people can actually use this stuff. which one says, "hours of free live streaming coverage without
9:54 pm
cable or subscription fees"? aluminum, aluminum? you ready, zack? oh, we're ready. welcome to the show. let's make finance make sense. ♪ ♪ ♪ this holiday season, families near you need your help. visit redcross.org now to donate. 'tand in your garage,son a brand new john deere. that's not a mirage. with 60 months financing at 0%, say "happy holidays" to money well spent. if additional offers are what you desire, visit your john deere dealer before they expire. now, start up your engines and drive out of sight. new john deere equipment for all and to all a good night. see your john deere dealer today to discover more great deals and special financing offers. new year, new deere.
9:55 pm
9:56 pm
president trump continues to have a solid base of support. but his belittling attack on former secretary of state maybe the latest in a long line of tweets contributing to erosion of the base. it began when tiller son publicly chast sized the president for being undisciplined. that led to this presidential tweet. i'm quoting. mike pomp is doing a great job i'm proud of him. his predecessor didn't have the mental capacity needed. he was dumb as a rock. i couldn't get rid of him fast enough. he was lazy at hell. great spirt at state.
9:57 pm
the might not have been the wisest move on the part of president trump. >> over the week you responded to the president's tweets saying he won't die hards but fence sitting ones will decide if he gets a second term. it's interesting to me what he tweeted it wasn't the worst thing in terms of insults he's ever tweeted about somebody. what about it made you think about that. >> it's a pile on situation. it's kindergarten stuff. he's done it before. we know about that. we can list all of them. the truth of the matter is that this is piling up with fence city evangelicals. they have to decide if they want to support him again. not the deplorable ones he had at hello from the beginning. the ones that held their nose a bit. >>ment point is important.
9:58 pm
it's easy for people to paint evangelical about this one block of people. there are different philosophies in in it and out looks and points of view. it's interesting you're breaking it down to fence sitters and people who are they were for trump from the beginning. >> it's very dangerous. especially for the add mirs to think they have all evangelicals. you can't assume that the whole pie is going to be with you in 2020. for sure. now look having said that, i have to tell you. that the folks on the fence at least from an poll on twitter beyond that word on the evangelical stleet. the folks i travel with. will take actions over insult. >> bottom line.
9:59 pm
the kind of point you have been making with the tweets you send is the administration shouldn't take evangelicals for granted. that the percentage he got there are a certain number of percentage of the percentage who voted for him the 81% of the evangelical who went to the poll. who voted for trump. some are fence sitters. and this cumulative effect could hurt trump. if they turn against him. >> yeah. tlast that's a distinct possibility. here's the other part the important part. there's a lot of evangelicals that didn't vote for trump in 2016. those folks will see a lot of the actions in the first couple years and say he was right on judges and the the life issue and the embassy. and those folks may in turn vote for him. you could have a 2% less of the fence sitting that say enough with the insults. but you could gain folks two.
10:00 pm
>> a lot can happen in two years in any direction. >> quick reminder don't miss full circle. our newscast on facebook. you can get the details watch it we can nights 6:25 eastern p.m. news continues right now. handing it over to chris cuomo for "prime time." >> we jus learned the president is worrying the democrats may try to impeach him when they take over power. the president has reason for concern. the case gens him for obstruction of jus it is reached a high water mark. not because of what he did. because of what he may have known about. cohen. flynn, manafort, have all now revealed they were in contact with administration and campaign members the whole way. in each