tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN March 2, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
>> no i would never do that. >> reporter: jeanne moos cnn new york. >> thank you for joining us. and you can watch "outfront" any time anywhere go. "ac 360" starts now. we begin tonight at the end of the week like any we have never seen before. having heard so many misrepresentations or incomplete statements from the white house, we could not imagine they would bring it up again. the subject of spousal abuse. this is a photo of what porter allegedly did to her. there is a word in what the white house engaged in. the word is gas lighting. in case you are unfamiliar, it
is when somebody tries to make you question your own reality and perhaps insanity. today, porter's former boss, chief of staff john kelly revisited his handling in a way that left white house staffers stunned saying general john kelly is not telling the proof. they were stunned, puzzled or saying flat out that john kelly wasn't telling the truth. that was the reporting at the time. and here we are again. here is what general kelly said again that reignited the scandal. and he said it unprompted. no one forced him to say it. he volunteered it. quote, i have absolutely nothing to consider to resign over he told reporters. then, he put forward a new time
line that fits our extensive reporting nor the story he told west wing staffers at the time. he said he learned of serious accusations. he described it as quote just the accusation of a messy divorce and maybe emotional abuse. kelly then says we put out a statement for him and an hour later now find out there is a second report still not in the press, still no picks just an inquiry saying hey, his first wife 15 years ago says that there was physical abuse. then he says he spoke with porter who he says had already resigned but unclear when which raises more questions namely when that statement was crafted had porter already quit.
keeping them honest allowing for confusion there on general kelly's part, it pales next to the bigger question, why did the white house continue to defend porter on the seventh. so there is that, which is hard enough to explain, but what makes general kelly's time line so bizarre is we had evidence almost from the beginning. you will hear shortly from the daily mail editor who sought comment. everything they had on both - ex-wives including the physical abuse allegations. unless the press office didn't mention it to the chief of staff who also happened to be porter's boss, he already knew it from
the daily mail. cnn has reported a source inside the white house saying kell will he and who others were always made aware of what the source calls quote domestic issues end quote back in november. only that it was something that would have raised suspicions. here is how jenny willoby described her relationship with her ex-hub. >> after an argument where we were both yelling in each other's faces which unfortunately had become the norm in our marriage and i removed myself from the situation to take a shower, to cool down, to disengage from the situation, he came to the shower and opened the door and pulled me out to continue yelling at me. >> he put his hands on you and pulled you out? >> yeah. >> was that a startling moment for you? >> i think up until that moment,
i didn't realize that i was in an abusive marriage. i think it sounds almost ridiculous coming out of my wife given how i can speak about it and remember things now, i don't know it was that moment that i realized that i was with a man who was capable of something like that. today, chief of staff kelly volunteered he had only been told of emotional abuse. she put out a statement, my only sadness is when kelly first defended the statement of rob saying they thought it was only emotional abuse. he changed the statement after realizing it was physical abuse. emotional and psychological abuse is abuse. in any event whatever type of abuse was alleged general kelly had reason for suspicion before
the sixth of february. and again, according to our reporting and others, john kelly was told about domestic issues back in november. with as he only told about th--e almost certainly knew something was amiss. something bad enough to hold up what should have been a routine background check. we also know even if he really truly honestly knew nothing until the night of the six he maintained his defense of porter until the photo came widely viewed. >> obviously tough time for him. he did a very good job when he was in the white house. and we hope he has a wonderful career and hopefully he will
have a great career ahead of him. but it was very sad when we heard about it. and certainly he is also very sad. now, he also as you probably know, he says he is innocent and i think you have to remember that. he said very strongly yesterday that he is innocent. so you will have to talk to him about that. but we absolutely wish him well >> chief of staff kelly four star general could not stop the president of the united states from saying that and he did not stop him from tweeting this. quote, peoples' lives are being shattered and destroys by mere allegations. some are true, and some are false, some are old and some are new. there is no recovery for someone accused. when he is gaslighting, it falls under the chief of staff.
>> are you saying that the white house counsel never learned until last tuesday that there was any allegation of any sort that was any level against rob porter. >> again, i am not going to go into the specific details of how the process works, but i can say we learned of the extent of the situation. >> who is we? because i want to get -- >> the white house generally. again, i can't get into the specifics, i can tell you the process for the background was ongoing. and the white house had not received any specific papers regarding the completion of that background check. >> now, keeping them honest, that was one of a string of misleading stae misleading statements that have gone out on this. when con fronted with an
embarrassing or damaging truth, the white house first instint is to lie about it. for more now, the reaction that i alluded to it, let's bring in jim acosta who is at the white house. do we know why general kelly would choose to rehash this today several weeks after the original reaction from the white house? >> reporter: i think he wanted to put the matter to rest, but by all accounts that we are hearing from officials here, this was sort of a four-star foul up on the part of the general. just a few moments ago, he said he did not become a wear of these red flags of porter's background until february 6th. it was testified that they completed a background check and delivered to the white house in july of last year. our sources tell us that white house officials were made aware
of this last november. so somebody is lying here. there are lies that are being told and appears we are not getting the straight story from the general. clearly there was more going on. >> what did general kelly say about the security clearance issue? >> that was the other eye-opening part of the day, he said to reporters flat out and this part did sound candid. he said when he came on board it was an eye-opening experience when he learned just how many people were working here in the white house with interim clearances. more than 100 people here at the white house were working with interim security clearances and that was shocking in and of itself. the chief of staff said that was more than he was comfortable. at the same time he admitted to reporters that the handling of classified material here was not up to the standards that he was accustomed to.
this is somebody who works with president trump and slamming hillary clinton time and again accusing her of mishandling classified information. he said when he came on board he thought there were too many staffers who had top secret security clearances and he bumped down many clearances when it came to dealing with these clearances and who had access to sensitive information. >> how are white house staffers reacting? >> we heard from a number of sources saying they were puzzled as to why john kelly would want to rehash this now. one official said to me that the timing was odd considering all of the turmoil they had been in all week long. the hope hicks departure.
jared kushner security being downgraded. this official saying we have had enough. let's go home and kelly wanted to rehash the saga. and again, leaves this question out there, why did john kelly not handle this the way you would normally expect the chief of staff to handle this. >> yeah, jim acosta appreciate that. joining me now is david martosco. >> well, it felt to me to go to sarah and raj. i gave them a very complete read
on what was going to be in that first sorry. just before this broadcast, i brought up my notes. and i told them that dailymail.com had determined that porter had grabbed his wife by the shoulders and yanked her out of the shower naked. i told them that he had punched the window out of a pane of glass. we told them all about the temporary restraining order she filed that she was walking on egg shells throughout her honeymoon, that he had called her an efing b. the idea that that emotional abuse doesn't track. there was physical abuse. and one other correction, we didn't tell the white house about the first wife until the
next morning. so the idea that john kelly heard it hour after i came into sarah's office that there would be a second picture with the black eye, that doesn't make sense. >> there is no way they could have misunderstood what you were sharing with them. you mentioned the yanking of jenny willoby out of the shower but also there had been an order of protection that had been filed. >> yeah, sarah to her credit, took copious notes. at 7:00, when we were ready to pull the trigger on the story, they sent me an e-mail and i forwarded it to my editors and we ran it with john kelly's
glowing statement, and sarah's statement. so all of this is curious. and you know, now, general kelly is saying today, that porter resigned his job to him that tuesday before our first story ran. but the story that we ran carried a statement saying in the presence tense that i am proud to work with him. >> which implied that he was still working there. originally only been told about so-called emotional abuse, does that make sense? >> not unless sarah huckabee sanders was keeping stuff from him and she is smarter than
that. and we also know from what chris wray said on the hill that both of the ex-wives had spoken to the fbi about this earlier. there is no question that there was information from the fbi that should have raised flags from the bucketful. and no question in my mind that he got a complete read. >> the other thing i don't get is why general kelly would re-litigate this today and also give himself a pat on the back at the same time. >> it was an unforced error. no reason to re-litigate any of this. we can speculate about whether he is worried about his job being on the line. trying to explain to the president that he has this under control. we don't know. what i can tell you from talking to the officials at the white house, is that porter was considered trusted and important general to kelly. and it was likely that the
general was willing to sweep things under the rug because he needed porter. if general kelly says now he didn't know about the physical abuse, that doesn't make sense. >> right, and your last point gets to the question, if dailymail.com hadn't do this reporting would the actions had been taken that were taken? unlikely. we don't know the answer to that. >> hard to know. by the next day they were still supporting him from the podium and it took general kelly i think 14 hours after we ran the story with ms. holderness's gruesome black eye photo. >> david, stay with us. i want to continue the conversation after a short break. also, later tonight, will this derail what new reporting says is the current -- out of the
white house. this is staggering development. magg magg maggie haberman joins us. dial your binge-watching up to eleven. join the un-carrier right now, and get four unlimited lines for only thirty-five bucks each. woah. plus, netflix for the whole family. on us. prrrrrrr... so, they get their shows... let's go, girl! you're gonna love this bit! and you get yours. watch however you want. on your phone, tablet, or tv. for a limited time, get 4 lines for just thirty-five bucks per line, with no extra charges. it's showtime! all on america's best unlimited network, t-mobile.
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the dailymail.com is back. and kirsten powers and phil mudd. what message does it send that he is creating a whole new narrative. >> it doesn't add up at all and david just in the previous segment outlined what he was told. so he wasn't told about physical abuse unless he believes dragging your wife naked out of the shower isn't physical abuse. so it doesn't make sense. having exemplary character and didn't revoke that, he has now said we didn't cover ourselves in glory and raises questions about once all the information was out, why were you still standing by him and they were. and that is something that we
have to remember without having to go into the inner workings of the white house, we know what was publicly made, i mean, made public and we know how they reacted to that information. and it took them a long time to come around and ultimately it was because a picture came out and they acted oh, well now, we think something happened. when the daily mail published it was clear that serious allegations were going on. >> and phil, just as a background security standpoint, if the fbi gives the information to the security office at the white house, is it, at all possible that they don't disseminate it further down the chain i mean whether it is to general kelly or sarah sanders or something. >> that is hard to imagine. as we discussed the case initially closes in july.
that is seven months before the chief of staff makes this -- or removes ron porter. the next follow-up is in november. that is three months. so it is not like 15 days, 30 days. i can see confusion over a short period of time. but i don't care what was said today. two questions you need to ask. when the fbi did the background investigation, did it include the information in july or in november about physical abuse of a former spouse. question one. that is a yes or no. i don't care what the story is. yes or no. question, two, yes or no. if that information was included in the file in july or november, was anybody outside the security staff told. yes or no. i don't care what the story was. i don't care what the time line was. i want a yes or no answer to those two questions and that is it. >> david, what does this say to you about how the white house is
functioning or not functioning. >> not just how gjohn kelly's white house is functioning. it is entirely possible priebus didn't pass on everything he was expected to pass on. clearly in november kelly knew not only this was in the fbi's file but they considered it a blackmail risk. so dysfunction there. from my point of view, is people of low moral character shouldn't be around power. there is concern that john kelly may have problems you know tracking with reality when it comes time to tell facts about what he knew and when he knew it. on further reflection, his entire mo today was to defend why he didn't resign. this goes back months if not a
year. >> kirsten, also brings up kelly's respond back with congressman wilson, when he refused to admit he made a mistake. in some ways kelly is mirroring his boss inability to admit making mistakes. >> he should not have re-opened this. and what he is saying is just adding more questions i think than answering anything and even the way he is talking about it, he said, when he met with reporters that he had never seen rob porter be abusive in any way, he was a total gentleman. and that was besides the point. and unbelievable after everything we have been through with the me too movement, that he would saying something like that. that this person wasn't abusive to his boss doesn't mean that he
is not abusive in his private life. so what it says is he really wanted to ignore these women and believe what the man said. it did take just having a photo and this public shaming in order for him to believe it. but the message he is still sending and talking about i thought it was only emotional abuse. and emotional abuse is serious and can be as bad as physical abuse. >> if kelly was parsing his words today saying the white house didn't tell them this information. but what he didn't say is if someone flagged it earlier which according to our reporting, they did. >> you raise the critical point and that is somebody here has something to answer for. look, general kelly has a storied career, he lost his son in battle. let's assume he didn't know to
the end of this process. if the fbi initially close in july, did the security office feel so intimidated by the chief of staff that they didn't think it was critical to tell somebody this guy is accused of physical abuse against several people. how did that happen? who in the security office made that decision? if general kelly didn't know the information there is a secondary question, who knew it and why didn't they act. and if the fbi didn't find it, that is a bigger question, how in the heck didn't you find out he was abusing two women. that is not the answer. >> thanks very much everybody. quite a week for president trump and given recently history, that is saying something. maggie haberman about the president, his daughter, and jared kushner.
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magg maggie haberman joins us now. does he want them in or out of the administration. >> always more complicated than that. where the president was being encouraged to have jared kushner leave because of the russian investigation. the president's closest emotional relationship is to his daughter. the run relationship in his life that is different than any other relationship that he has with exception to his wife. he, i think given his druthers would like her to say, but is aware that she has gotten dinged up in the press and feels responsibly. jared kushner is a different story. jared kushner well on the one hand the president has some
pangs of sympathy to whatever extent he has those, he feels that jared kushner are earning negative headlines, splashing back to the president. he feels like it makes him look bad and there is going to be a limit to how much of this he is going to take. you add into the fact that the security clearance issue is not entirely clear about jared kushner. we know he was downgraded. you could see a scenario where ivanka trump would stay in the white house and jared kushner would leave. this move to promote brad parsecal. widely seeing primarily about setting his own parameters.
but i think the president is growing weary of this. this is a president however, aus know who says different things to different people and he can believe them in that moment and convince himself that is actually the case. >> i want to make sure that we are transmitting it exactly how you reported it. the president has had conversations with john kelly about what to do with them? >> he has had conversations about what to do with them. he has said to a couple of people, jared has to go. he has been a little more explicit with kelly and a bunch of people in the white house are aware of it to the extent that several aides are confused as to why both have stayed. >> gloria borger talked to a
source saying quote something is very wrong at the white house. is that consistent with the sense you are getting at the white house. this is unique even by the standards of the trump white house? >> absolutely. i thought gloria's piece was spot on. everyone sounds very alarmed. people who know the president well and people who have come to work for him recently. something has changed. they can't quite put their finger on what it is. people in the white house feel a lot like the early weeks of the trump administration when there was total chaos. one side of the white house didn't know what the other side was doing. open warfare. this has been in free fall. in large part by this rob porter
issue. he helped move a lot of policy and playing a bunch of crucial roles and an adviser to john kelly. if you don't have normal systems in place, a lot of problems can arise and it has sort of taken the air of command to control that john kelly had managed to create around himself as bringing order to the white house, that has gone. >> right, the reporting i saw today about this meeting with steel executives that a lot of people in the white house didn't know what the president was going to announce regarding tariff. >> that is accurate. i spoke to one west wing advisor who was talking about how many people had to company many in early just to try to triangleate that the market could open down. this is toxic for the people who
work there. many want to do good work and not hang out and have fun. >> you made the point that his tweeting can literally depend on it is good golf center. we called the weather center. the forecast is sunny. >> but windy. >> breezy we were told. so i guess, i don't know if that bodes well. if that is the adjective to use. >> i mean that, the other factor to put in there is this rnc fundraiser at mar-a-lago this weekend. a lot of the president doing his greatest hits. and he may work himself into a lather because of that. >> i appreciate that. fascinating reporting. the president also under scrutiny for his meeting with the nra.
he met with a group and told them the gun lobby has less power on him. a new twitter between president trump and the actor alec baldwin. -ahh. -the new guy. -whoa, he looks -- -he looks exactly like me. -no. -separated at birth much? we should switch name tags, and no one would know who was who. jamie, you seriously think you look like him? uh, i'm pretty good with comparisons. like how progressive helps people save money by comparing rates, even if we're not the lowest. even if we're not the lowest. whoa! wow. i mean, the outfit helps, but pretty great. look at us. we came with big appetites. with expedia one click gives you access to discounts on thousands of hotels, cars and things to do.
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control. some members of congress are not so sure after president trump's latest face to face with the nra. on wednesday, the president met with a bipartisan group. all of which the gun lobby opposes. the president insisted that he wouldn't be pushed around by the nra. take a look. >> the reason i had lunch with the nra on sunday, i called them and said you have to come over. fellas, we have to do something. they have less power over me. what do i need? >> so that was wednesday just a couple of days after his first meeting of the week with the nra. now the second meeting with the group came the next day, chris cox the executive director of the nra lobby arm.
he shortly tweeted i had a great meeting with donald trump and pence. that is leading to questions of course to where the white house stands on gun control. earlier tonight i spoke with congressman elizabeth estee. sarah sanders went out and soft pedalled the meeting do you know what to believe at this point? >> at the end of the day it is going to come down in my view one of two things. either pass serious legislation
or people are going to turn out and vote for a congress that is going it do something about this issue. i think that is why the president in many ways would like to do something. i think he knows that in his gut. >> you think this will become a voting issue for those who want more gun control because in the past, though obviously people are raised, you know, raised this as an issue and it hasn't been a thing that has driven people to the polls. >> no it hasn't. and someone who represented new town and got elected to congress just before that, all of us in america and frankly across the world thought that congress would act, and act immediately in the wake of that horrific slaughter of school children and in some ways, maybe we were too much in shock. and this time i will tell what you is different. it is the students from
parkland. they have the passion and they know this is wrong and they are part of the new town generation. they have grown up with active shooter drills and they are angry and they are right to be angry. and i do think we are going to show them and their parents and their friends and their older brothers and sisters if nothing happens. >> again, it was a bipartisan meeting in which he seemed all over the map. he would say to democrats, seemingly backing their positions and when republicans seer him back to the positions, he would go back to the republicans positions. he was talking about comprehensive measures on gun
control in that meeting. it does seem like i mean, do you think the president understands these issues enough or actually has a position? >> well, as somebody who was at that meeting, a lot of us were surprised by a lot of things. certainly everyone was surprised when he pushed back on steve scalise who himself survived a shooting this last year. when he was pushing for concealed carrying permits and reciprocity across the country and the president twice emphatically said no, that is not going to be in a big bill that goes in front of congress right now. and he is right about that. that would not pass in the senate so right to say no on that. i think that did surprise a lot of us. >> i don't think it is a coincidence that the president is willing to meet with
bipartisan on camera but met with nra behind closed doors. >> he likes the idea of doing something nobody else has done. why didn't anything happen in the past because i wasn't there. he likes the idea of doing something nobody else can do and has been able to do. so we will see. if he can take on the nra and he is willing to do that, he sounded like he was willing to do that on wednesday but then we are hearing whole different things tweets out this morning and tweets out from the nra saying he doesn't want to make changes. >> i appreciate your time. thank you. >> thanks very much. >> president trump didn't confine himself to tweeting about domestic and international issues. details ahead. and my hygienist says it does but they're not all the same.
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it's a rare day when president trump can resist tweeting. going back to last week he was twitterless for eight hours tweeting about steel today. he tweeted about alec baldwin. >> i am not a crook. okay. plus, i bet nixon got one scoop of ice cream for desert but i get two scoops. >> reporter: alec baldwin doing his best impression of donald trump on saturday night live. >> it's all part of the plan. >> reporter: when the hollywood reporter asked him this week how long he can keep playing donald trump, baldwin responded "every time i do it now, it's like agony. agony." that wasn't lost on the man in the oval office. before dawn on friday night, despite what is happening in the
world, donald trump started a twitter feud with the comedian. hammo hammond had played trump on snl years ago. >> it's been a huge joy for her. >> reporter: meanwhile, trump's original tweet had to be delete and reposted after he called the actor alex instead of alex and misspelled the word "dying." baldwin never one to back down from a good fight tweeted back. agony though it may be, i would like to hang in there for the impeachment hearings, the resignation speech, the farewell helicopter ride. you know, the good stuff that we've been waiting for. the actor later went on to tweet "looking forward to the trump presidential library. a putting green, recipes for
chocolate cake, a live twitter feed for visitors to post on. a little black book with a phone numbers of porn stars. you're in and out in five minutes. just like --" this isn't the first time that trump criticize the baldwin's impersonation of him. >> you think i care about optics. look at me. >> reporter: two months after baldwin's s in, l debut as trump in 2016. trump tweeted calling the show "totally unwatchable and not funny." adding baldwin's impersonation can't get any worse. the tweet ended with trump's trademark sad. despite what the president thinks, baldwin's impersonation is a hit. ♪ when the actor hosted snl, it had the largest audience since 2011. and his impersonation won him an emmy award. >> and long last, mr. president, here is your emmy. >> reporter: on jimmy kimmel's late night show.
baldwin talked about his first dress rehearsal playing the president. >> it was like a scene from the mental hospital. >> reporter: in this latest twitter feud, it seems baldwin had the last laugh. tweeting at trump and "please ask your wife to stop calling me for snl tickets." randy cay, cnn, new york. there's more ahead tonight. up next the president chief of staffer raises a lot of questions when he revisits the rob porter scandal. mr. porter physically or emotionally abused two ex-wives. you were pushed out of your homeland, but you could never be broken. you walked together. you built your home again.
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