An interview between CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and White House deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka took a sharp turn Wednesday amid the ever-expanding controversies surrounding the White House.
The interview initially focused on a 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, which has dominated headlines since last weekend. A Politico report on Tuesday said White House aides felt "helpless" as that scandal took on a life of its own.
"It's laughable. Your chryon talked about a 'crisis,' Gorka told Cooper, responding to a suggestion that the White House was in turmoil. "I actually work in the West Wing, I work in the White House, it is absolutely nothing of the kind. The president is a steam locomotive that can't be stopped. It's just fake news."
"I'm sad to see CNN fall to this," Gorka continued. "I know you want salacious and sensational coverage for your ratings so your corporate sponsors and owners will have more money, but that's not media, that's not reportage. It's just fake news."
Anderson Cooper through the years
Anderson Cooper through the years
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Anderson Cooper -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 18: (L-R) Jeffrey Zucker and Anderson Cooper attend the 2014 CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at the American Museum of Natural History on November 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Kelly Ripa and Anderson Cooper -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 0016 -- Pictured: (l-r) Journalist Anderson Cooper during an interview with host Seth Meyers on March 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: Sean Penn and Anderson Cooper attend the 3rd annual Sean Penn & Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala benefiting J/P HRO presented by Giorgio Armani at Montage Beverly Hills on January 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for J/P Haitian Relief Organization)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 08: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (L-R) Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin and Gloria Steinem attend Kathy Griffin's Carnegie Hall Performance official after party hosted by Anderson Cooper at Trattoria Dell Arte Restaurant on November 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 27: Television personality Anderson Cooper arrives to 'Late Show with David Letterman' at Ed Sullivan Theater on August 27, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Anderson Cooper and Cher -- Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 16: Anderson Cooper attends the 24th annual GLAAD Media awards at The New York Marriott Marquis on March 16, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 08: (L-R) Actress Betty White, television personality Lisa Vanderpump, and media personality Anderson Cooper pose for a picture as 'RHOBH' Lisa Vanderpump Co-Host's Anderson Live With Guest Betty White at CBS Studios on January 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Anderson Live)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Anderson Cooper and Christie Brinkley host Anderson Live at CBS Studios on December 4, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Anderson Live)
Honoree Pushpa Basnet the Early Childhood Development Center and host Anderson Cooper onstage during the CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute
at The Shrine Auditorium on December 2, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. 23046_006_MB_2354.JPG
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21: Bill Gates, and Anderson Cooper attend Together To End AIDS: An Evening To Benefit amfAR and GBCHealth at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on July 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: TV personality Anderson Cooper arrives at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Sunset Tower on February 26, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 12: Anderson Cooper tapes a segment for his talk show 'Anderson' at Boston Market on October 12, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Anderson)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - SEPTEMBER 27: Anderson Cooper seen in the Meatpacking District on September 27, 2011 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 14: Journalist Anderson Cooper unveils his wax figure at Madame Tussauds on September 14, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 19: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Anderson Cooper visits Elvis Duran and Z100 morning show team at the Z100 Studios on August 19, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for the Z100 Morning Show)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 28: Anderson Cooper, honorary marshall for the 95th running of Indianapolis 500 during the parade for the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28, 2011 in the streets of Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Anderson Cooper sighting at Time Warner building on May 9, 2011 in New York City.
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Anderson Cooper attends Hope for Depression Research Foundation 10th Annual Hope Luncheon Seminar at The Plaza Hotel on November 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
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NEW YORK - MAY 18: Anderson Cooper seen at the 2016 Turner Upfront held at Nick & Stef's Steakhouse on May 18, 2016 in New York City.
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TORONTO, ON - MAY 15: CEO of Indigo Heather Reisman and Anderson Cooper attend the book signing of his new book 'The Rainbow Comes And Goes' at Indigo Manulife Centre on May 15, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by GP Images/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 15: Anderson Cooper attends AOL Build Speaker Series to discuss 'Nothing Left Unsaid' at AOL Studios In New York on April 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 04: Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt attend the 'Nothing Left Unsaid' premiere at Time Warner Center on April 4, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 04: Anderson Cooper visits at SiriusXM Studio on April 4, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 07: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper in conversation at Barnes & Noble Union Square on April 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 29: Republican Presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich takes part in a town hall event moderated by Anderson Cooper March 29, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Candidates are campaigning in Wisconsin ahead of the state's April 5th primary. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
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Cooper responded by saying he was "just going to ignore the insults" and that he didn't believe Gorka's comments were going to be helpful to the conversation."
"It's not about you," Gorka replied. "It's about actually having journalism back on TV Where are the Walter Cronkites of yesteryear. This is just about ratings and money. It's actually quite sad."
Gorka continued by alleging Trump Jr.'s meeting in 2016 warranted no suspicion: "I deny the fact that there's anything here that's untoward. Again, this is an obsessive nine-month campaign."
"I stand by what the president said, and I stand by what his son said," Gorka said. "We are incredibly impressed by Don Jr.'s transparency and the fact that he actually published these emails and said he will cooperate with anybody."
Trump Jr. tweeted transcripts of his email exchange with Rob Goldstone, a publicist for Emin Agalarov, a pop-star whose father is a Russian oligarch, after The Times sought a time-sensitive comment from Trump Jr. in regards to the story.
"Let's be honest though, he only published emails because The New York Times got the emails and was going to publish them, and then he smartly got ahead of it," said Cooper. "And the only reason that this story has lasted so long is because he wasn't transparent from the beginning."
"The story only has legs because the fake news industrial complex is obsessed," replied Gorka. "9 months of accusations with zero, zero evidence of anything illegal."
"I thought we were going to talk about real issues," Gorka continued.
"I am gonna ask you, but you're not being honest, you're not being upfront," replied Cooper.
"Anderson, how many minutes are we in," Gorka asked, referring to the elapsed time of the interview.
"Are you a TV producer now," Cooper quipped. "You're concerned about how [many] minutes we're talking? You have somewhere else to go? If you gotta go, you gotta go."
"You're falling into the fake news trap again," said Gorka. "And it's sad, Anderson."
"You're shaking shiny objects to try to divert people, but I don't think viewers are really that easily diverted," said Cooper.
"Do you know why the president's description of a witch hunt is accurate," asked Gorka. "Because there never were witches. And there never was any collusion. It's bogus ... Anderson, you're like a broken record."
"No, because I'm not getting any answers from you," replied Cooper.
"I'm answering it. Every time," said Gorka.
"No, you're responding," said Cooper. "You're not actually answering because you're not actually being up front."
"Let's let the viewers judge, who decided that you are now at 13th place in national ratings behind 'Nick-at-Nite,' which is at 11 p.m.," Gorka said.
"You used that line on Monday, and you know, it was sort of mildly amusing," Cooper said, grinning. "But I think it's funny that you have enough time in the White House, which is apparently you're so busy, you're able to sit around [and] read Nielsen numbers."
"No, I had really good prep from my team, because the White House press team is superb," Gorka said. "I don't deal with this stuff because I do have a day job."
Later during a panel discussion, Cooper bristled at the interview, likening Gorka to "the Hungarian Don Rickles."