Anderson Cooper's Wednesday night interview with Roy Moore spokeswoman Janet Porter already had veered beyond the realm of normal political discourse when the CNN anchor posed the following question: “Do you really believe that the judges on the Alabama Court of the Judiciary are radical homosexuals and transgender people?”
You, dear reader, might have a question of your own: How did the conversation get there?
It got there because Porter's candidate said, when he was suspended last year from his post as Alabama's chief justice, that “this was a politically-motivated effort by radical homosexual and transgender groups.”
Cooper wondered whether Porter thought the label applied to the nine judges who voted unanimously to suspend Moore for the remainder of his term. Porter wouldn't say yes or no.
Porter declined to give direct answers to many of Cooper's questions, which created a contentious and confusing dynamic. As Cooper read a long list of Moore's previous statements and asked whether the Republican Senate candidate stands by them, Porter neither walked back nor doubled down. She talked around the inquiries, instead, making her target audience unclear.
Porter didn't try to excite Moore's base by affirming his controversial stances, and she didn't try to appeal to moderates by tempering his remarks, either.
I have annotated the full interview, below, using Genius. To view an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text.
COOPER: Joining me now is Roy Moore's campaign spokeswoman, Janet Porter. Janet, thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate it.
PORTER: Thank you, Anderson. I appreciate you having me on.
COOPER: Janet, you believe these women are all lying, but Roy Moore has been removed twice as chief justice in the Supreme Court. The second time he had his honesty challenged by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. Judges unanimously said he had not been credible, and they found his use of case law had been incomplete, misleading and manipulative. That's a quote.
So, you don't believe any of these women, but you believe Roy Moore who was removed from office after found to be not credible and misleading.
PORTER: First off, when we talk about believing the women, I would ask the question of maybe some lacrosse players at Duke University, ask them if they believe every woman who makes an accusation. If we did a lynch mob media against innocent people as we did with lacrosse, there would be some lacrosse players in jail right now.
Let's look at what the judge did. He stood for the Ten Commandments. He said that I have the freedom of religion to display these commandments —
COOPER: Actually, what the judge did was he violated state and federal regulations and he was removed from the Supreme Court for that. And then four years later, he misled the — he misled the judges by saying he didn't order probate judges not to marry same-sex couples. They said he was essentially lying.
PORTER: Here's what really happened. Having been down here in Alabama, I'm learning a whole lot about what's going on. And one of the things that I learned is that what the rule of law really means is that you follow the Constitution. Not activist judges that are acting outside the Constitution.
COOPER: Are you telling me Alabama has a lot of activist judges?
PORTER: And that's one of the reasons why the people of Alabama love him so much.
COOPER: You're telling me the judges, all of whom voted against him and took him off the court, they're all activist judges?
PORTER: Well, Judge Roy Moore was sworn to uphold the Constitution of the state of Alabama, the Constitution of the United States of America. That's what he was following.
COOPER: But they actually convicted him of violating state law.
PORTER: May I finish?
COOPER: Well, I'm just telling you what you're saying is incorrect.
PORTER: Well, I'm telling you what Judge Moore says is what I believe and it's the culture war that's going on down here. There are people who believe that government is god and there are those who believe what our Declaration of Independence says, that we are endowed by our Creator with the inalienable right to life and liberty.
And he was exercising his religious liberty, he was following the sworn oath of upholding the Constitution of the state and the nation, and that's why we want to send him to the Senate because he doesn't care about his job more than he cares about the principles or the Constitution of the United States. And frankly that's why, Anderson —
COOPER: Well, let me understand, he took an oath to mislead, he took an oath to manipulate? He took an oath that endangered probate judges?
PORTER: No, don't put words into this formula —
COOPER: Well, you're saying he took an oath. I'm telling you what the judges found him guilty of.
PORTER: He took an — well, you know what? Sometimes rulings aren't necessarily accurate. I mean, there's all kinds of things that can be said about someone, but what he did is quite different.
COOPER: Well, let me tell you what Roy Moore said about those judges. He said that —
PORTER: — and the Constitution of the United States.
COOPER: Right, at the time said that those judges were radical homosexuals and transgendered activists.
Do you really believe that the judges on the Alabama Court of the Judiciary are radical homosexuals and transgender people?
PORTER: I really don't know about the judges and what their orientation happens to be.
COOPER: I thought you would have looked to see if they were homosexuals or transgender people running the court.
PORTER: It matters not to me. What matters is we have someone willing to defend our religious liberty, defend marriage as a Constitution as he's sworn to uphold the Constitution of the state and the nation. But let me tell you what's at stake here.
The reason I took — can I finish?
COOPER: You're accusing these women are lying when he's the guy who has been told unanimously by judges he's been removed twice from his job and judges said he was manipulative —
PORTER: Because he stood for marriage and that's why the people of Alabama are going to send him to the Senate. You can repeat allegations over and over again, but it doesn't make them true.
COOPER: They're not allegations. They're what the court actually found.
PORTER: Well, let me tell you what really took place. You've got a guy willing to stand on principle and even if it costs him his job and his lucrative retirement. That's why this is — you want to know why all this is going on?
Let me tell you what's at stake here. This is ground zero for religious liberty. This is ground zero for life. And the winner of this Senate race is winner-take-all. It will be the deciding vote on the United States Supreme Court, who will sit on the court for the next 30 or 40 years.
COOPER: Right, so, it —
PORTER: Because we know that Senators Mikulski and Collins are going to side with the Democrats. And it took — even when they confirm Betsy DeVos, it took Vice President Pence to break the tie.
PORTER: So, that's what we're going to be looking at when we got a promise from President Trump for pro-life justices. But what good is that promise if you can't confirm them, and that's what's at stake.
PORTER: That's why you see these baseless allegations just on the eve of an election.
COOPER: I guess I'm just wondering why voters trust somebody who a court has found was misleading and manipulative, but we'll obviously leave that up to voters. You said The Washington Post —
PORTER: Because they know the truth. They know he stood for marriage. That he stood for life. The voters know that.
COOPER: The Washington Post —
PORTER: That's what we know. Not only does the voter know that, the voters of Alabama, but the president has stood with Judge Roy Moore, as has now the Republican Party come onboard.
COOPER: Well, now he has. He wasn't a couple of weeks ago.
PORTER: The governor — well, the governor is now on board and has been onboard, as we see people like Dr. James Dobson, pro-family leader, Dr. Ben Carson. We see Governor Sarah Palin.
Let me tell you who's working against Judge Moore.
COOPER: Well, let me ask you about that.
PORTER: It's the Democrat establishment, the far-left media, the ones from the abortion lobby, the felons that George Soros is spending money to make sure they're registered to vote.
By the way, I want to know —
COOPER: Let me ask you about that —
PORTER: — there are some people who Judge Moore sent to jail that do have an ax to grind against the man.
COOPER: All right. Let me ask you about that because you named a lot of people — your campaign — just as you did tonight, but your campaign has blamed an awful lot of people for the accusations being made by women against Roy Moore. I've heard Moore or his supporters blame Doug Jones, George Soros, the DNC, Mitch McConnell, mainstream Republicans, The Washington Post, the lynch mob media, as you call them, homosexuals, transgender people and criminals.
Can you just explain to me how all these people got together and came up with this plot against Roy Moore? Because that's a pretty huge group —
PORTER: Well, Judge Moore is —
COOPER: — and I don't know if there's a conference call that Mitch McConnell and like radical homosexuals are on, but it would be fascinating to hear that.
PORTER: May I respond?
COOPER: Go right ahead.
PORTER: When you have false allegations that are generated by The Washington Post there tends to be a pile-on. That's how a lynch mob works. And so, what we're looking at is a guy that has stood for life, unlike his opponent that favors abortion for all nine months of pregnancy.
COOPER: Do you have evidence that all these people are involved, the DNC, the RNC —
PORTER: Let me tell you my experience. Can I tell you, Anderson? This is where I come to this campaign. May I share something with you?
PORTER: When I ran for — I've been trying to get a pro-life bill in the state of Ohio for the last six years and the Senate was blocking me. So I recruited candidates to run and I filed to run myself and when I was polling even with the establishment, they spent a million dollars telling everyone that I was the pro-abort, telling everyone that I was a liar. And my niece was listening to the radio one day and she said they just don't know Aunt Janet. And the same is true, what the establishment does is make false allegations. The postcards look almost identical to the ones they sent out against me minus the sexual allegations.
COOPER: So you're from Ohio, right?
PORTER: Here's what happening. The people — let me finish. Yes.
The people that know Judge Moore the most — and the people of Alabama do — are the ones standing with him now.
COOPER: So, let me ask, why is it okay for you to come in from Ohio and tell the people of Alabama how to vote when you go after George Soros, you go after anybody else who's not from Alabama claiming they're outsiders? Are you just as much of an outsider as The Washington Post?
PORTER: Well, the reason I came to Alabama because this is ground zero in the fight for our freedom.
COOPER: Right. But you're not from the state. So, you're telling people in Alabama how to vote.
PORTER: Well, what I would tell people that aren't from the state of Alabama is to do what I did. Go to RoyMoore.org and make the most generous donation you possibly can, if you care about the future, if you care about the right to bear arms.
PORTER: This is the only guy that's going to stand for it. By the way, when the —
COOPER: Judge Moore, he's the only, really?
PORTER: May I finish?
COOPER: Judge Moore has talked a lot — no, Judge Moore has talked a lot about abortion and the right to bear arms. These are issues which are obviously incredibly important, I totally understand that.
I want to ask you where the judge stands on a number of issues that he's spoken about in the past but not as much recently because we haven't been able to get to him directly. Does Judge Moore still believe that homosexual conduct should be illegal and that homosexuality is still the same thing at bestiality?
PORTER: Well, I think that what Judge Roy Moore — and I can't answer that question —
COOPER: You don't know that? Because that's what he said in the past. Can you get back —
PORTER: I don't have that answer, but I can tell you what he does believe regarding that issue. And regarding that issue, if you want to talk about making sure we don't have sexual predators —
COOPER: No, I'm not talking about sexual predators, I'm talking about anybody who's homosexual, gay and lesbian people.
PORTER: Let me answer if I may. You've got to let me answer, Cooper — excuse me, Anderson, Mr. Cooper.
COOPER: You're talking about predators. So, that's not gay people.
PORTER: Let me just say, he wants to put out a welcome mat in front of these young girls. If you are a junior high school girl or if you are a high school girl, what Abortion Jones is saying we're putting out a welcome mat to any boy who's feeling like a girl that day, he's free to walk into the bathroom, the locker room with his camera phone and shower with your daughter.
COOPER: I've heard you say that numerous times.
PORTER: The people of Alabama aren't going to take this radical position.
PORTER: They're not going to take the radical position that says —
COOPER: Can you get back to us on whether —
PORTER: He said, I can't tell you I won't take your religious liberty away. That's where Abortion Jones stands.
COOPER: Can you ask as a spokesperson? Can you get back to us on whether or not he believes homosexuality should be illegal?
PORTER: I believe that he believes the Bible and what the Bible has to say and something his opponent wants to criminalize.
COOPER: If you don't want to answer that question, that's fine. But can you get back to us?
PORTER: I can answer — yes, I can look into that.
COOPER: Can I ask you, does he still believe that 9/11 may have happened —
(CROSSTALK) PORTER: — is public positions.
COOPER: I'm asking you his public positions.
PORTER: Pardon me?
COOPER: Does he still believe that 9/11 may have happened because, quote, we distanced ourselves from God? That's what he said in the past. Does he still believe that?
PORTER: You know, this is — this is the thing. A lot of people talk about God and how they're Christians. In fact if you look at the commercials of Roy Moore's opponent, he's telling everybody what a great Christian he is and how he defends —
COOPER: You don't know the answer about 9/11 either?
PORTER: I don't know the answer on 9/11. No, I'm sorry, I don't have that answer. But what I will tell you is that the people of Alabama —
COOPER: Third question. Does he still believe — does he still believe —
PORTER: You've got to let me respond, Anderson. Come on.
COOPER: Okay. Go ahead and respond.
PORTER: What I want to respond is what the people of Alabama know, their state motto, and I'm learning it while I'm here —
COOPER: Which you're not from, right.
PORTER: — is that we dare defend our rights. And our rights, our rights to life, our right to liberty, our right to bear arms, our right to a strong military, our right to secure borders.
If you want to talk about protecting women, we need to run from Roy Moore's opponent who lets — the Kate Steinle family, says, you know what, so what if this guy is illegally immigrating? So, what if he's a seven-time felon, we're not going to build the wall to keep him out because that's too expensive.
PORTER: I think the lives of Americans being lost are too expensive, and that's what's at stake in this race and the people of Alabama are not going to be fooled. They won't be bought, and they won't be bullied.
COOPER: Okay. Just like two more questions. Does he still believe an American citizen who's a Muslim should not be able to serve in Congress?
PORTER: I think that what he's getting at there is we believe in the rule of law by the Constitution, not sharia law. And I think that's really the bottom line in what we're looking at.
COOPER: Right, he said that Keith Ellison should not be allowed to use the Koran, to swear in the Koran.
PORTER: He said, I am sworn to uphold the Constitution, and he'll lose his job if he has to, to stand for that Constitution.
COOPER: So, you don't know the answer of that either?
PORTER: To stand for religious liberty.
COOPER: Whether he still believes that?
PORTER: Well, it's a message — I believe his position has to do with whether we follow the Constitution or the ridiculously oppressive to women sharia law.
COOPER: Does he still think Keith Ellison shouldn't be allowed to swear on the Koran?
PORTER: If you want a guy that's for women's rights, Anderson, if you want somebody who's for women's right, then you need to run Judge Moore.
COOPER: I get you don't want to answer these questions and that's cool, but I'd rather you just say you don't want to answer them rather than just ignore them.
PORTER: I'm answering them. He picks the Constitution over sharia law and the people of Alabama agree.
COOPER: Does he still believe there's sharia law that exists, that communities in the U.S. are being ruled by sharia law, as he did in the past? Does he still believe that?
PORTER: I think he sees there is a movement toward that, if you look to —
COOPER: That's not what he said. He said there were actually communities being run by sharia law. Does he still believe that?
PORTER: Well, there are communities overseas that are being run —
COOPER: No, in the United States.
PORTER: I'm not sure if there are any here in America —
COOPER: Illinois, he said Illinois.
PORTER: — but I know that there's a movement toward that and he stands for the Constitution. That's what you know.
COOPER: If you can get back to us on that, that would be great, too.
PORTER: He's going to fight — he's going to fight — I've already — I've told you what I know and that is the Constitution should trump any other rule —
COOPER: But you don't know what his position is. As his spokesperson, I'd love to hear his position.
Does he still believe Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States?
PORTER: That is his position. I'm pretty — I can tell you with some confidence that this is the guy that stood with the Constitution even when it cost him everything. You don't have to question that.
COOPER: That he still —
PORTER: We already know that. He's been through the fire and he's come out gold. That's what the people of Alabama know.
PORTER: And they're not going to be bullied. They're not going to be told what to do —
COOPER: I hear that.
PORTER: — by the lynch mob media and they're not going to be told what to do by a pro-abortion Democrats. That's what we're going to see six days from now on the 12th of December.
COOPER: Again you're his spokesperson, just try to get these positions down, does he still believe Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States? Because he didn't believe that in the past.
PORTER: You know what, that issue has kind of come and gone so that's an issue that —
COOPER: Okay, because he commented about it in the past recently I just thought —
PORTER: I don't know. I just know that when I have to rent the library book or do anything else, I show my driver's license. I think that's a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But that's — or birth certificate, that's a perfect reason —
COOPER: Okay. So you don't really know any of the —
PORTER: Now, you can try to make the guy look — look really as bad as you can, but the people of Alabama know him.
COOPER: I'm not trying to make him look bad, I'm just — he's made public statements —
PORTER: He's known as trustworthy for 40 years.
COOPER: He's made public statements, I'm trying to find out if he still believes these public statements. The last one I'm going to ask is, does he still believe —
PORTER: That one was irrelevant.
COOPER: Let's try this one on for size. Does he still believe that President Reagan's description of the Soviet Union as the focus of evil in the modern world could be applied to America today? Because he said that. He said it could be applied to America today because, “We promote a lot of bad things like same-sex marriage.” So does he still believe that the U.S. could be the focus of evil in the modern world?
PORTER: I've heard him speak at many rallies and what he has is great hope for America.
COOPER: All right.
PORTER: He knows that God gave us mercy in last election —
COOPER: Okay, not answer the question, but —
PORTER: — and he has great hope. In fact I think he would go along with the Ronald Reagan quote that says it's hard to remember when you're up to your armpits in alligators that you came to drain the swamp and that's what Roy Moore is going to do, drain the swamp. That's why they're not real fond of him in Washington.
COOPER: Does he still believe though that the U.S. has become the focus of evil in the world because the U.S. promotes things, in his words, like same-sex marriage?
PORTER: Pardon me?
COOPER: Does he still believe that the U.S. has become the focus of evil in the world because the U.S. promotes things, in his words, like same-sex marriage?
PORTER: Yes, you can ridicule biblical beliefs if you're not.
COOPER: I'm not ridiculing.
COOPER: I'm asking you — I'm giving you quotes of exactly what your candidate has said.
COOPER: You're the spokesperson and you seem a) unwilling — I know you're not from Alabama — but you seem either not to know what his positions are or unwilling to actually tell me what his positions are.
PORTER: He should, it's very public knowledge that he stood for marriage between one man and one woman as it has been for 200 years in the United States. That's not a secret.
PORTER: There's no —
COOPER: I'm just wondering does he still believe the U.S. is the focus of evil in the modern world.
PORTER: — and the people of Alabama do, too.
COOPER: Because that's a pretty bold statement.
PORTER: He has stood — he has stood for the Constitution and that's really what it's all about. It comes down to who do you want to represent the people of Alabama. In fact the judge said recently that — he said they don't want Alabama values in Washington and he said I can't wait. And the people of Alabama are going to send him to Washington to drain the swamp and to defend life, defend liberty, our Second Amendment, he's going to build a strong military and perhaps most importantly he's going to be the deciding vote to make sure we confirm the judges that President Trump puts on the Supreme Court, and that's what matters. The people of Alabama, as their motto says, they dare to defend their rights. They're going to defend their right to vote and defend their constitutional rights as well.
COOPER: I appreciate your time, Janet Porter. Thank you very much.