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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  December 3, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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good evening from washington where the ceremonial rhythms of a somber day faded into a picture of simple, quiet sadness. the flag draped casket of the 41st president of the united states lying in state right now@capitol rotunda. george herbert walker bush is being remembered tonight by so many in so many different places from bodying so much of what now seems to be conspicuously missing in our public sphere. he's being appreciated as one of
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the most consequential one term presidents this country has ever seen. president bush was neither especially popular nor appreciated when he left office. his stature has grown. when he entered the office, the soviet union was a place and the old soviet empire was cracking at the seams. nobody knew how it might end. as his casket flew back to washington, a joint u.s., russian and canadian crew arrived at the international space station aboard a russian spacecraft, about as good a tribute as many to his time in office. president trump will be paying his respects. we'll bring that live. he said this about the moment, it was as gentle a passing as i think you could expect anyone to have when he was ready. my next guest was also by the president's side. he joins us now.
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how long had you been a pastor to the family? >> about 11 1/2 years. >> wow. these final days, i know you had a conversation with him. i think it was after thanksgiving. >> the sunday before thanksgiving we had a wonderful visit that sunday afternoon. but a few visits after that, of course, and just staying in touch with him and of course we were with him and the family, secretary and mrs. baker and at the very end. >> to the extent you feel comfortable talking about it, can you talk about what the end was like for the president? >> yes, i mean, it was a precious, gentle, graceful death, and he was surrounded of course by his friends, susan and jim baker, by his family. by his wonderful medical aides who had been there with him for a long time. >> he was at home? >> he was at home. and we had been there for quite
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some time, that afternoon. and you heard some of the conversations that happened that afternoon, the phone conversations that took place between the 43rd and 41st president. >> the 43rd, president bush, was on a speakerphone. >> right. and there were moments where -- intensely personal moments like that where i moved out of the room which i felt was appropriate. as we got to the end and of course i was fortunate and blessed to be with barbara at the end of her life as well, we see that moment in a particular way. so as it became clear we were coming to the end, we all -- all of us, the family, secretary mrs. baker and myself, and the medical aides, we all knelt down next to the president. we placed our hands on the president and offered what we in the episcopal church call prayers at the time of death. and then he left this life to
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the next in a very peaceful and gentle way. we had a very silent moment then realizing it was poignant. >> what do you pray for at the time of death? >> pray for -- he was so much at peace and so ready to meet what was coming -- >> he wanted to be reunited with barbara. >> and you've seen this comment by secretary baker where he came in the morning and said good morning, how are you, and the president said where are we going, and the secretary said we're going to heaven and he said that's great, that's where i want to go. and that's between secretary baker, but he and i have talked about that over the years. >> he fully believed in that, that he would be reunited with his wife. >> absolutely. and so at that time we mainly prayed for peace and acknowledge and believe that, you know, god's already ready to receive him. >> the relationship between -- i
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feel like you can't speak about president bush 41 without speaking about barbara bush. the relationship between them was so extraordinary. from the moment they met at i think a school dance, you know, it's -- it seems like something from another age. and i guess sadly in many ways it is. but just the length of their relationship, the intimacy of it, and the playfulness everybody witnessed between them. >> they loved each other very much. they were playful with each other, they kidded with each other. and what one of the things my wife and i experienced was being taken into the family and that meant meals with the children. and they displayed that kind of affection with that each other, that kind of playfulness with each other in front of everybody. and one of the things people have experienced with them is everybody felt like they were their best friend. they treated everybody the same way. and you guys have done a
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wonderful job reporting in the tributes and stories that he took a sincere interest in every person he met. if he met the doorman at a hotel, he would speak to him, get to know his name. if he got to know someone at the restaurant, he'd want to know that person. it's a remarkable quality. >> it's also such a tribute to a life of service. from the time -- i mean, he was at yale university and he could have i think his father encouraged him to complete his education before going off to war. he didn't have to go into the military when he did, but he felt the country was at war and that was his duty and that's what he did. >> i think that's very true, and absolutely committed to service. and as we've -- my wife and i have reflected in the last few days, i think it's become even clear to all of us that what we see there is a man whose service was not driven by political gain or by personal power but it was
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something that was in him from the beginning. my job is to talk about his faith and his faith was a very simple faith and i use that in a very -- in the best sense of the word. it came naturally to him. he didn't have to wear it on his sleeve but he very much lived his faith. that came out in his service. he believed in his service to his nation, his service to his friends, and his service to his family. this family is remarkably close as we're seeing these days and will see in the days ahead. they're playful with each other. they have a great relationship with one another. >> i think it's something -- the faith of the president is not something -- i remember when he was in office it really wasn't something that he wore on his sleeve as you said. plenty of politicians go out of their way to make it very clear, and you have the sense with president bush that he valued through discretion. he grew up in an age in which he's not going to be the person
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on instagram tweeting out pictures of every fancy place he's eating or meal he's eating. he sort of walks his faith. >> right. that's a wonderful way to put it, and i think he never sensed the desire to use his faith for any purpose other than to live it. i think it's important to realize that, in fact, he was used by his faith to serve other people. >> reverend dr. russell levinson jr., thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. it's really wonderful. >> great to see you. god bless, you. thanks. >> i could use it. joining us now, former abc news white house correspondent sam donaldson joins, also senior political analyst david gergen. sam, you covered the white house with george h.w. bush. as you watched the departure from texas today, the service at the capitol rotunda this evening, what stood out to you?
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>> i thought of the man more than the president. i think everybody in washington new george herbert walker bush. he was friendly. i think reporters who wrote things or said things he didn't like necessarily have kind of a drawer full of notes from him. oh sam, saw you on tv on sunday. looking good, g.w. looking good? me? he couldn't hold a grudge. anderson, he couldn't hold a grudge. david knows this too. after the 1992 election he was defeated. the two boys said one of us will get even for him and one did. but he became a good friend of bill clinton's. they collaborated on social work and charity work together. they collaborated so often that george w. once cracked when bill clinton was in the hospital with a heart problem briefly that he saw a picture of president clinton surrounded by the people who were closest to him. there was hillary, chelsea, my dad. that's the guy i was thinking of
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today. >> david, the scene today, it does -- it is obviously a solemn occasion and such a stately occasion and one with ties and roots in the history of the united states, and obviously it brings up memories of other presidents we've seen in the capitol rotunda and other funerals for other presidents but it did today feel like such a departure from the washington of today, the divisiveness that we've known more recently. it felt like we were witnessing the passing of somebody from another era. >> i agree. it's almost like we're watching a banished world. george h.w. bush held such different values. he came from a different generation, a world war ii generation that tom brokaw later described as our greatest generation. those were people who came of
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age during the war and they came back home, took off their uniforms and then ran for political office to do at home what they tried to do back overseas. george h.w. bush believed in that strongly. i think, anderson, today, coming back to the capitol, it's one of the places he felt very much at home in washington. as a congressman he enjoyed his time there and frequently when he was president he went back to the capitol, went up to the gym to work out there with his friends on both sides of the aisle. >> sam, that -- i keep coming back to his service during the war and i think it was tom brokaw i heard talk about how the importance of that in terms of shaping who he was not only the horrors of what he saw losing friends but also meeting people from all different walks of life in the military, the military is an extraordinary melting pot in that sense, and for a guy from his background,
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it sort of opened him up in a way that he might not have otherwise had the opportunity to be opened up. >> i think that's right, anderson. he was the youngest naval pilot on our side during the war shot down. he met a lot of people, as you say. his father was a patrician, taught him to be reserved, keep his emotions to himself from the standpoint of a public display of them but not to dislike people. i never heard an example or obviously saw an example of where he seemed to be prejudiced against someone because of their skin color or their religion or what have you. he was just a very decent human being in almost every respect. his presidency is something we can all debate and i think was well above the line. i think his accomplishments put him very well in history as one of our best presidents, but you can debate that, but you cannot really debate the idea that here was a man who showed what it was
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to be human, to like people and try to do something good for them. >> there you see, david, on our screen we're seeing a picture live from the rotunda. you're seeing the salute of a little boy, a scout, for the former president, a president he didn't even know at the time. obviously, he's too young, but clearly his family wanted to be there and wanted to show respect and he's doing just that. there was, david, this strong emphasis on president bush's legacy today. what do you think he will be most remembered for just in terms of his presidency? it obviously came -- he was following in the shadow of ronald reagan and yet the world was -- it could have gone a whole number of different ways with the collapse of the soviet union, and it was a perilous time. >> i think he'll be remembered chiefly for two things, anderson. one is the personal side. he was a man, a president of enormous character.
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david mccullough, the historian, has argued that the single most important quality in any president is character. i think he represented that to the hill. the other thing is he did end the cold war very peacefully and very, very importantly. he was the man who really made it possible for germany to reunite. had the american president taken a stand against that it would have been very hard to do. he celebrated it. it's not an accident that angela merkel, the german chancellor, is coming to the funeral. it emerged later on that the way he handled that, the care and the understanding of history and the understanding of how this could bring europe to peace for the first time in the 20th century was really an important accomplishment. >> david, sam, thank you gentlemen both for your
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remembrances. again, we're continuing to see members of the public who will be able to all throughout the evening pay their respects to the 41st president of the united states, and we are anticipating the current president and the first lady to also come tonight to the capitol rotunda to pay their respects. we'll bring you that live as well. up next, the potential legal fallout from a string of presidential tweets today, questions of obstruction of justice, witness tampering and more in the wake of all of this as the world is focusing on the death of the 41st president and president trump has also been tweeting about robert mueller. details ahead. over 100 years ago, we were talking about the model t. now here we are talking about winning the most jd power iqs and appeal awards. talking about driver-assist technology
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♪ spread a little love today ♪ spread a little love my-y way ♪ ♪ spread a little something to remember ♪ philadelphia cream cheese. made with fresh milk and real cream makes your recipes their holiday favourites. the holidays are made with philly. president trump pulled off two-thirds of a legal hat trick today. he leaned on a federal judge whose career he could affect and raised a few legal questions.
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the leaning on a judge tweets, quote, michael cohen asked for no prison time. you can do all the trump things and not serve a prison time? he makes up stories to get a great and already reduced deal for him and get his wife and father-in-law who has the money, question mark, off scot-free? he lied for this outcome and in my opinion should serve a full and complete sentence. now, here's the tweet about long-time associate roger stone that raised more questions today of witness tampering and obstruction of justice. the president begins by quoting stone. quote, i will never testify against trump. this statement was recently made by roger stone essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about president trump. nice to know that some people still have guts. in addition to legal questions that have been raised by tweets, a number of observers noticed the president's language which some likened to a mob boss.
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joining us now is garrett graf who's written ensatively about robert mueller, also cnn's legal analyst jeffrey toobin. jeff, first of all, what do you make of this, for the president to so publicly praise stone for a while, at the same time saying that cohen deserves a full and complete sentence. does that sound to you like the president is dangling a pardon to stone? >> it sure does. it is so wildly inappropriate. you know, we sort of wear ourselves out talking about this stuff this way and it seems almost repetitive but the idea that the president of the united states would be talking about witnesses and people convicted by his justice department -- remember, robert mueller is a department of justice employee -- this way is without precedent in american history. this has never been done before. now, whether it is an actual obstruction of justice or just an egregious violation of the
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norms that every other president in history has abided by, i have a hard time figuring that out. i don't really have a clear answer to that. but the fact that it is wrong is indisputable. >> some legal experts, jeff, including kellyanne conway's husband, are arguing that it raises questions about witness tampering. >> witness tampering is a very unusual, rarely prosecuted crime. i'm not sure -- i think the question is whether it's obstruction of justice and whether the dangling of a pardon is in itself an obstruction of justice by a president because after all, no one else can offer a pardon. it is worth remembering as we've mentioned several times here that the threatened use of the pardon power to reward people who don't cooperate was one of the articles of impeachment that was passed by the house judiciary committee in 1974
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against richard nixon. this is not unprecedented territory in terms of impeachment. this is potentially an abuse of power. >> garrett, as for paul manafort, someone the president has also publicly praised, there's a report the public might learn more in a court filing at the end of this week indicating the prosecutors are going to detail what they believe manafort lied about. you and i have talked about what mueller might be doing in kind of writing a report in real time through these public documents. can you explain that? >> yeah. bob mueller has filed a plea agreement with michael cohen last week more than 300 pages of deeply written narrative arguments really about how the 2016 election unfolded and the various characters and plots and schemes that unfolded in its midst by russia, by paul manafort, by michael flynn, by
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george papadopoulos and others. so for everyone who's waiting for all of this to be tied up neatly in a hardback book some day that says "the mueller report" on the cover, bob mueller is writing a lot of what his final report would end up looking like through these court filings. every one of them has more detail than necessary for criminal prosecution. as jeff knows, when you're writing a federal indictment or a plea agreement, you're choosing your words very, very carefully and you're not looking to throw in a lot of extraneous words. so the fact that bob mueller is including this much detail is a message unto itself. >> if i can just -- i completely agree and garrett wrote about this really very per receptively in axios today. let me give you two examples. the two indictments of the russians, the one group that was involved in social media, abuse
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of facebook, the other the people who are involved in the hacking that led to the wikileaks disclosures. in both of those cases it's very unlikely there's ever going to be a trial in an american courtroom because most of the defendants are russian and they're not coming back to be tried. but what mueller did was he wrote these indictments -- the term prosecutors use is they are speaking indictments, and they tell the story of how the russians manipulated the 2016 election. it is such a valuable service that was provided by mueller, even though those trials will probably never take place. that's what i think garrett is talking about in terms of telling the story of how 2016 happened through legal documents rather than exclusively through this report which may or may not ever become public. >> i just want to point out to our viewers the president and first lady, we're told they have
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arrived at the capitol. we expect to see video of them in the rotunda paying their respects to president george h.w. bush. we'll obviously bring you those pictures live. watching this along with us tonight are our cnn special correspondents jamie gengal, jeffrey engel, katelyn collins as well and of course david gergen is back with us. jamie, as we wait for images of president bush and the first lady, you know the bush family probably better than any other journalist that i know, certainly better than most. i'm wondering, is everything we're seeing, has this been -- is this what bush sr., bush 41 wanted? did he have a hand in this? >> no question. so a reliable source whose name was president bush 41 told me when they first came to him and said you have to plan your funeral, he did not want to have anything to do with this. and then they said it's your
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duty and he said, okay. he confessed that he micro managed the process from there. there's no question that what you're seeing is what he wanted. he knew who was president in the last two years of his life, and while president trump is not speaking at the national cathedral, it would have been -- anyone who knows george bush would say it would be unthinkable that he wouldn't want the sitting president there. >> to attend at least? >> to attend. it's for the office. i also think whether or not it was planned or not, this sends a message to the trumps. this is how it's done. look, we're all here together. barack obama, bill clinton, two democrats, they called bush 41 a gentleman, total class. this is the embodiment of just how different it can be.
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that's a message to trump. >> jeffrey, also, when you cannot help but review the life of george h.w. bush and not see a pattern which is so different than the current president. he was at yale, he didn't have to volunteer for the military. he could have stayed in college. i believe his father wanted him to stay in college. he insisted when he turned 18 that he would go. his has been a life of service every step of the way. >> there's no doubt. that was in him from the very beginning. he came from a class of people really who were supposed to be there to give back to the country, that they had been given so much. this is an interesting double-edged sword because on the one hand president bush and those like him thought of themselves as having a responsibility to be helpful to the country. on the other hand there are moments we've seen throughout his career where he thought he's the kind of person who should be in charge.
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we have to remember in a sense when we're talking about the passing of an age, of a generation, he did grow up in an earlier time when the type of person who would be in washington operating as a political actor was much more narrow than it was today. he really felt himself to be a person who belonged within that club. >> david, you and i talked about this a short time ago but this is such a representation of how washington has changed given what we saw -- the outpouring about president bush but also what we're seeing today and no doubt at the funeral as well. >> absolutely. i do think that george h.w. bush was heavily influenced by his father, prescott bush, who was a senator from connecticut. eisenhower almost put him on the ticket in 1956 to replace
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richard nixon because they were friends and he had so much respect for him. that was the first generation of bushes in service. then there was george h.w. bush ii or the iii and now he's got grandchildren in public service. four generations of service to this country, that represents a tradition. i think the reason that he's asked donald trump to be there was that that's also a tradition. he likes the precedent of the president, sitting president, coming. he didn't ask him to speak which i think was a good move on both parts. i might say just one footnote, anderson. i do think that president trump deserves credit for how he's been handling this over the last few days. he's been very positive. he hasn't been snarky. he is coming -- >> david, just to let you know, the president and the first lady are walking in. let's just listen in on this.
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>> the point david gergen was making a moment ago, that president trump had sent a boeing 747 known as air force one when the president is on board in order to bring the president to washington, that is also tradition, and that so far president trump is sort of following through on what they traditional do, putting the bushes up at the blai house, i don't know if it's to mend fences given the comments he's made about the family over the years. >> he's not one to mend fences. i think he's doing this because he feels he has to do it and i'm also assuming that general kelly has had a big hand in it.
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i do know from the bush family that they are very appreciative and think the white house has just bent over backwards, gone to great lengths, been extraordinarily helpful. that said, i can't help but wonder if there was a thought bubble over donald trump's head just now, what he was thinking as he stood there. >> i have to imagine he was thinking how much longer do i have to stand here? >> he had to be there, he did it. i think it's interesting he did it because maybe he could have waited until the national cathedral, and then he saluted. >> i was told about a minute, 15 seconds. >> it was somewhat theatrical in nature but i can't imagine that this is very comfortable for him, these moments, and i think it is going to be fascinating to watch the cathedral on wednesday and how he interacts with these other presidents and how he sits there during these eulogies. >> jeffrey, that is one thing. traditionally a sitting president would give a eulogy for a former president.
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obviously that is not going to take place. this is a special circumstance given that president bush's son who is also a former president, is going to be giving the eulogy. it's one thing to have -- for the bushes to have president trump there. it would have been another thing for them to let him speak. >> exactly. i think we need to remember the historical precedent, that a sitting president in the room is typically given the honor of addressing the crowd, any crowd to be honest. i think we need to be a little bit thoughtful and careful how we interpret what president trump is doing here. david mentioned we need to give him credit for not tweeting out nasty things about president bush. i'm concerned that we shouldn't give credit to someone for not kicking dirt on the grave of a person who just passed away. >> david, to that point, he has tweeted today about robert
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mueller, about the special counsel and things like that. it's not as if his public focus has all been on honoring president bush. >> that's true. he's being the ornery president he has been. i just say that when he does something like this, that he carries on the traditions and does it in a solemn way and a gracious way. the family has been very grateful to him, the bush family. we shouldn't question his motives. he's doing it right. i think there are times when we should say, you know, he's doing this one right. >> so far president trump is going along with the tradition, the state funeral. they've gone forward as we talked about with air force one. i know you've been covering this throughout the day and i'm wondering what sort of moments stand out to you. there was an extraordinary moment a short time ago where there was -- i'm not sure if it
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was a boy scout or eagle scout where he wanted to pay his respects saluting the president's casket. >> it really has completely overcome washington, all of the trappings surrounding this funeral, and it will for the next few days. right outside the white house is the blair house. that's the president's guest house. president trump has invited the bush family to stay there. we saw them arrive a short time ago after they were on capitol hill for that ceremony earlier in the day. it does show an interesting method that the president is using, a president who has not hidden his animosity with the bush family in years past but since his predecessor, president 41 died on friday night, president trump has had nothing but effusive praise for george h.w. bush, saying that multiple times on twitter in that press conference in argentina when he canceled that press conference, where he was going to take questions from reporters, saying
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he did so out of respect for george h.w. bush. then of course he did follow protocol and send air force one to pick up his casket and send it here for that final flight from washington to texas. that's interesting for president trump since the last comment he made about the 41st president was being critical of his points of light, the volunteer foundation of course that he started. that's the last thing we heard from president trump on that but now he does seem to be taking the presidential role here. he is going to be attending the funeral on wednesday, though he will not be speaking and it will be interesting to see him seated there next to the other former presidents, many who he has not spoken to since taking office, including president obama, president bill clinton. he did call president bush after his father died to give his condolences. it will be interesting to see them all seated here in washington, something you rarely see, and especially for president trump. >> yeah, the president had tweeted once mocking the thousand points of light something what was that, i
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didn't get that, something like that. more coverage ahead. we'll be right back. (honking) when your craving strikes, you need your wing nut. ( ♪ ) no one can totally satisfy a craving, quite like your wing nut.
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team. they've been extremely tight-lipped as you know but we're expecting three big court filings this week thad could give us the best indication yet about where the investigation may be heading. first up, a sentencing memo for former security adviser michael flynn is doing tomorrow. we're expecting sentencing memos for michael cohen and paul manafort. the president has been praising roger stone for not testifying against him and lashing out at michael cohen saying he should get a big prison sentence. carrie, from a legal standpoint, what does that mean, sentencing documents in all these cases? >> well, so for each of the individuals, their circumstances are different but there's going to be a sentencing document so that means that the prosecutors will have prepared documents, what they propose should be the sentence and that lays out sort of the extent for cooperation for some of them. then it lays it all out in terms
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of what the recommended sentence is. the defense also will provide their own documentation, what they would argue. then it's up to the judge to decide what the person should be sentenced to, so each of these individuals have different circumstances. >> gloria, does it -- this is probably a dumb question. does it surprise you that the president is tweeting about roger stone and michael cohen? but does it surprise you? the juxtaposition and obviously the timing of it -- >> the timing is -- today on the day that the former president's body is brought to washington, yeah, the timing is bad, but you see what's going on this week. this is all sort of starting to tie up loose ends. i think that what we see with the president is that he's sort of giving these big clues to people. oh roger, you're not cooperating, great, you're a gutsy guy. michael cohen, you're a toad because you're turning on me.
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i'm not the lawyer here but i don't know if this is witness tampering or obstruction in public, but it's highly inappropriate, particularly today, but highly inappropriate at any time. we're going to learn more this week. >> so look, i mean, i think the president is not surprising, not doing something that surprises everybody, right? gloria and i were talking backstage. in an otherwise incredibly remarkable good performance by the president today, we heard david gergen earlier say give the president his due, he's been gracious to the bush family, a nice salute there, a classy touch with the president saluting 41 as he leaves. so an otherwise great day marred by some tweets in the morning perhaps. but again, as everyone will tell you, prosecutor sitting right here, i was a bond lawyer so not really qualified to opine on this. no prosecutor would take that to the bank and take that to court in an individual tweet. >> alone. >> i don't want to minimize the president's tweets though this morning with respect to his
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encouraging people to cooperate with the russia probe or not encouraging them, discouraging them to cooperate with prosecutors. witness tampering has to show some kind of corrupt intent. so whether or not a prosecutor would actually have a prosecutable case for his tweeting which is encouraging people not to cooperate is one thing. whether or not it -- >> he's saying tell the truth. he's not saying not cooperate. >> whether or not it meets the elements of witness tampering though, he has -- if he's doing it with intent to influence what somebody is going to either provide information to the prosecutors or not, then it is witness tampering. >> in the sense of dangling the idea of a pardon which is essentially what he seems to be doing both for roger stone and for manafort. >> significantly for manafort, right. all of these things and it's not just this is an isolated event. this is a whole pattern of his tweets that are directed at
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multiple witnesses, directed at the prosecutors, directed at senior fbi officials and all of these are going to form the basis for -- >> the president tweets nasty things, not just about the folks investigating. >> this isn't nasty. this is telling people what to do. by the way, he's the president of the united states and he's telling people not to cooperate. >> he's not saying not to cooperate. he's saying tell the truth. listen, if roger -- >> michael cohen says he's telling the truth. >> we can run tape on this network where michael cohen says the president is truthful, honest, the best guy going. you say was he lying then or is he lying now? that's the question. >> if mueller considers cohen to be a serious witness, he has to have his own corroboration because he's not going to take michael cohen at his own word. >> michael cohen's track record of statements, he's just -- >> all over the place. >> ridiculous. >> here's the thing, there have been so many of these instances of the president tweeting about
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the case, tweeting at -- making statements about witnesses who are in an active criminal enterprise investigation. if this was any other regular person, we would be saying you're not supposed to try to be intimidating and it's a violation of criminal law to try to intimidate witnesses. just because he's doing it out in the open doesn't make it not something that -- >> how do you think his lawyers are responding to this because his lawyers have done, i would argue, a very good job. they've gotten written questions. if this is the end of the investigation he won't have to testify. he's not going to be subpoenaed. and there he undermines his own legal team by doing this openly on twitter. >> again, this is an entire political argument because at the end of the day this is all about impeachment, not about a trial, right? this is a political discourse we're having. it's not going to be going and sitting in a courtney where. >> i want too thank you. coming up, let's check in with chris right now and see what he's working on for "cuomo
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primetime." we don't have chris? we'll take a quick break. i don't know what you're saying to me. i don't know what you're saying to me. >> well played, anderson. well played. >> i got someone in my ear saying, yes, yes. i'm like yes what? >> i was fixing myself a little bit. i'm sorry, i'm sorry for the delay. here's what we're looking at tonight, we're going to take a very deep look at what's coming this way from mueller. we know we have to know more and soon because the special counsel has to put in briefs on the manafort sentencing, cohen's sentencing and on mike flynn, general mike flynn's sentencing. so we're going to know more. two of those three he's got to talk about why they've been helpful for him. the third he has to make known why he believes manafort has continued to be untruthful during his plea arrangement. so we're going to know more. and the question at the center of all of it is why do so many people around this president lie about russia and how does that reflect our president's own actions with respect to putin? we're getting into it tonight.
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we have the best legal and investigative minds on that. >> all right, chris. that's about ten minutes from now. look forward to that. i'll see you. a lot was made of a new climate report last week. what you might have missed is who president trump nominated to be head of the new environmental protection administration, someone who worked for big coal. we'll tell you more about him next. coaching means making tough choices. jim! you're in! but when you have high blood pressure and need cold medicine that works fast, the choice is simple. coricidin hbp is the #1 brand that gives powerful cold symptom relief without raising your blood pressure. coricidin hbp. oprah: 1 out of 8 americans struggles with hunger. this season you can help. now through december 29th for every o, that's good!™ pizza, soup or side you purchase we'll donate a meal to feeding america®.
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last week, there was a lot of talk about a new federal report warning about the dangers of climate change. president trump told reporters he didn't believe the findings, and the white house press secretary sarah sanders said the report was "not based on facts." today, the united nations global climate summit got under way. "forbes" magazine says for the first time, the united states will not have someone there. what you might have missed in the middle of all of this is who the president has actually nominated as the new administrator of the environmental protection agency. our senior investigative correspondent drew griffin has this look at the president's pick who has ties to big coal. >> reporter: try to ask the acting administrator of the epa a tough question -- >> mr. wheeler, drew griffin with cnn. >> reporter: you're more than likely to get a stiff shoulder from his security. >> you've got to get back -- >> all right.
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>> reporter: without even a glance of andrew wheeler. >> take a window question. your security guards won't be bothered by it. >> reporter: why? >> mr. wheeler? >> reporter: perhaps because the question we want to ask him is how is it possible one of the biggest lobbyists for one of the biggest coal companies is leading the environmental protection agency? >> andrew wheeler was in bed with the coal companies, and now he's -- >> and he was in bed with them last year. >> and now he's in a role where he's regulating them. it makes no sense. >> whatever you can do. >> reporter: by his own resume, president trump could not have chosen a swampier, more conflicted person to run the epa than andrew wheeler. just look at this photo from last year. it's a meeting between energy secretary rick perry, who appears to be getting an earful from bob murray, the ceo of the largest coal mining company in the u.s. who else is in the room? murray energy corporation's top lobbyist, andrew wheeler.
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from 2009 until just last year, murray energy paid nearly $3 million to wheeler's lobbying firm to deliver government access just like this. months after the photo was taken -- >> i'm andrew. >> reporter: -- president trump could nominate wheeler from coal company lobbyist to deputy administrator of the epa. >> i'm not surprised. i am appalled, but not surprised. >> reporter: to those who track the trump administration's actions on the environment, like columbia university's michael gerard, wheeler is a worst-case scenario. >> wheeler is carrying out the wish list of the industry lobbyists who have wanted to shut down environmental regulations, as he himself was a lobbyist with exactly that objective, but now he's in the driver's seat. >> reporter: that industry wish list, turns out, is real. shortly after donald trump took office, murray energy, the coal company, delivered an action plan, a recommended agenda of rolling back regulations to get the government off the coal
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industry's back. >> you have promised to put america first, and -- >> reporter: trump's scandal-ridden initial epa administrator scott pruitt got the ball rolling before he was fired. but it is wheeler, barely five months at the helm of the epa who has done this -- rollbacks on coal plant emissions, rollbacks on car emissions, proposed rollbacks on methane emissions in oil and gas production, and he is doing it like a man who knows how to play the washington game. in strictly controlled environments like this forum at the "washington post," wheeler will answer questions like a pro, like this response on the newly released government report on the effects of climate change. >> i haven't read the entire report yet, but i've gone through it. >> reporter: and carefully choosing his words about the human impact on climate. >> i believe that man does have an impact on the climate, that co2 has an impact on the climate, and we do take that seriously.
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>> reporter: elizabeth gore, senior vice president at the environmental defense fund and a senate staffer while wheeler was there says she doesn't believe it. >> he's a science skeptic. he was calling people who were studying this climate alarmists, shrugging off the risks of carb pollution, calling climate change a hoax. >> reporter: wheeler before lobbying for big coal spent 14 years as a top aide to the top climate change denier on capitol hill. >> it's a snowball. >> reporter: oklahoma senator james inhofe. >> the past hour and a half or so, i've offered compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax. >> reporter: inhofe is a staunch opponent of environmental regulations. and when in charge of the senate's environment and public works committee, he held hearings challenging climate warming science. at his side, whispering in his ear, helping to direct questioning, lining up witnesses, was wheeler. capitol hill sources with intimate knowledge of his
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involvement tell cnn wheeler was the top man in charge and a driving force behind his boss' climate change denying agenda. five former inhofe staffers now work beside wheeler at epa, including his chief of staff, his principal deputy assistant administrator, his assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance, a senior adviser for policy, and an associate administrator for policy. all former staffers of the senator who believes climate change is a hoax. >> the epa is stocked with former inhofe staffers, and this is reflected in the types of policies that you see coming out of epa right now. >> so, do you think the goal is to just destroy epa flat out? >> i think that the goal is to undermine climate protections to roll back existing rules and to erode fundamental environmental laws.
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>> reporter: what is wheeler's response? >> just one question? >> reporter: we're waiting. >> drew, that means we still do not really have an answer as to why it's okay for a coal industry lobbyist to now run an agency that regulates the coal industry. >> reporter: certainly not from wheeler himself. he's not answering our questions. but we did hear back from his staff at epa. they wanted to point out a couple of, i would call them finer points, anderson. number one -- while wheeler was a coal industry lobbyist just last year, his epa staff says he didn't lo lobby the epa last year and he wasn't involved in that murray energy action plan or wish list. the second point they want to make is, yes, andrew wheeler was a proud member of senator inhofe's staff, but andrew wheeler did not write any of those speeches that senator inhofe now somewhat famously gave on the senate floor. two finer points, but to answer your question, no, we don't have an answer from andrew wheeler yet about how it's possible that epa's administrator could have been a coal industry lobbyist.
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anderson? >> yeah, all right. drew griffin. drew, thanks. we'll continue to follow that. the news continues now. we want to head to chris for "cuomo prime time." chris? thank you, anderson. i am chris caromo and welcome to "prime time." we will soon know more about the mueller probe, and i mean as in starting tomorrow. we're going to learn who's been helpful to the special counsel, who's been lying. there is a pattern to the filings by mueller, and we're going to show it to you and show you why it suggests that the president has good reason to be worried. happy hanukkah to all my jewish brothers and sisters. let's get after it. now, before we start tonight, let me say god bless the soul of president george herbert walker bush. my condolences to his family, my gratitude for their and the president's service. his passing would always be too soon for his loved ones. but for the country, it comes at a perfect time to remember a