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Explosive New Allegations Against Harvey Weinstein; Death Toll UP to 17 in California Fires; White House Claims 'I.Q. Test' Challenge was a Joke. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 11, 2017 - 07:00   ET


CAMEROTA: Some ask why it took days for the Hillary Clinton and the Obamas to denounce Weinstein, who was a longtime Democratic donor. And as allegations mount, there are questions about whether Weinstein could face criminal charges.

[07:00:19] So we have it all covered for you. CNN's Brynn Gingras has the latest development. So much has happened in 24 hours, Brynn.


Well, multiple sources with the NYPD tell me that there are no open investigations into Harvey Weinstein right now. And no new allegations have been made against him to police, at least here in New York.

Over two dozen women, though, have come forward with strikingly similar and disturbing accounts of their interactions with Weinstein over the course of decades.


GINGRAS (voice-over): The board of the Weinstein Company insisting Tuesday that they had no knowledge of the explosive allegations against co-founder Harvey Weinstein, calling the claims, quote, "an utter surprise." This despite widespread rumors that Weinstein's alleged abuse was the worst-kept secret in Hollywood.

Comedian Seth McFarlane even knocked Weinstein's bad reputation while hosting the Oscars in 2013.

SETH MCFARLANE, COMEDIAN: Congratulations. You five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.

GINGRAS: At least 25 women, including some of Hollywood's most prominent actresses, have now come forward accusing Weinstein of acts ranging from harassment to rape. Gwyneth Paltrow telling "The New York Times" that when she was 22, a meeting with Weinstein, quote, "ended with him placing his hands on her and suggesting they head to the bedroom for massages. I was petrified," Paltrow said.

Ashley Judd alleges that two decades ago Weinstein had her sent up to his hotel room and then greeted her in a bathrobe, asking if he could give her a massage or if she could watch him shower. Angelina Jolie also telling "The Times" that Weinstein made unwanted advances on her in a hotel room in the late 1990s.

KATHERINE KENDALL, ACCUSED HARVEY WEINSTEIN OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: He was in the bathroom, came back out of the bathrobe in a robe and asked me to give him a massage. I said, no, I didn't feel comfortable. He said, "Everybody does it."

Two other women recounting similar stories on CNN last night.

KENDALL: And said, "Well, at least if you won't, you know, give me a massage, then can I see your breasts?"

LOUISETTE GEISS, ACCUSED HARVEY WEINSTEIN OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: He told me he would give me a three-picture deal, and he could get my movie made. And you know, I don't doubt that he could, but he said, you know, "You have to watch me. But you've got to stay and watch me masturbate."

GINGRAS: "The New Yorker" publishing disturbing audio with a 2015 police sting involving Weinstein and model Amber Battilana Gutierrez. Weinstein attempts to lure her into his hotel room before admitting to groping her the day before.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN, MOVIE PRODUCER: Please come in. On everything. I'm a famous guy.

AMBER BATTILANA GUTIERREZ, MODEL: You're making me very uncomfortable right now.

WEINSTEIN: Please come in now. And one minute. And if you want to leave, when the guys comes with my jacket--

GUTIERREZ: Why yesterday you touch my breast?

WEINSTEIN: Oh, please, I'm sorry. Just come on in. I'm just used to that.

GUTIERREZ: You're used to that?


GINGRAS: The Manhattan district attorney's office says in a statement that, quote, "While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law."

Weinstein's reps declined to comment on the tape, but said in a statement Tuesday, "Any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein."

Weinstein is a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton and a major donor to the Democratic Party, raising more than $1 million for Democrats since the '90s.

After days of silence, Clinton condemned Weinstein on Tuesday, saying, quote, "The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated." The Obamas also denouncing Weinstein, saying, "Any man who demeans and

degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status.


GINGRAS: And Weinstein's wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, announced she's leaving her husband. The couple have two children together.

As for Weinstein, a spokesman says he's headed to rehab -- Chris and Alisyn.

CUOMO: Brynn, thank you very much.

Let's discuss. We have CNN contributor Nischelle Turner. We have CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover and CNN Politics media and business reporter Hadas Gold. It's great to have all of you here. I wish it were for a different reason. But this is an important conversation.



CUOMO: Timing is a big part of this story. They knew. People knew. Give us some context for that. What was known, what is new?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there are different levels of what was known. I mean, we heard Gwyneth Paltrow's story, when she talked about what he did to her. She said, "I told my boyfriend, my then-boyfriend, Brad Pitt, who confronted him at a movie premiere and told him, 'Keep your hands off of her. Don't do it again'"

So in that real, that stuff was known. So there are people who did know what was going on.

For the greater Hollywood population, did they know the extent of this? Did they know what he was doing, preying on women? I don't think that was known.

After Ashley Judd did the "Vanity Fair" interview a little whiles ago, she didn't name who the media mogul was, but she did talk about what happened. There did start to be conversations: "Is she talking about Harvey Weinstein? We think she's talking about Harvey Weinstein." Then you started hearing some murmurs.

[07:05:14] But the bullhorn that we're hearing now, and I just wanted to say, as you said this last hour, Alisyn, and I just have to reiterate. When you have Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette going on the record and saying, "This happened," that is massive. You don't get any bigger than that.

CAMEROTA: That was jaw-dropping.

TURNER: Absolutely. CAMEROTA: Those headlines, that they came forward and talked about this really unpleasant chapter in all of their lives, that to me, felt like the tide is turning. I mean, and you know, I think that the Brad Pitt moment is also instructive. Because all of these women did tell people when it happened.

TURNER: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: They went and told people. And when Brad Pitt confronted him, then Harvey Weinstein, according to the story, called Gwyneth Paltrow and said, "Don't ever say anything again. Knock it off." He tried to -- he silenced her effectively, then.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And then he continued to cast her and continued to work with her, and he continued to sort of be in this very difficult, complicated business relationship with somebody who was continuing to help her career, who she was also trying to avoid for her own security and safety.

CAMEROTA: And how many of us have had that? I mean, therein lies the power dynamic that so many women have. You work for a wildly powerful man. You rely on him for your paycheck and career. What are you to do?

TURNER: Make no mistake about it, in Hollywood, Weinstein company, their films, what they do, it's kind of like they have the golden touch. So if you get blessed by the Weinstein company, is you're in a film that they buy or that they promote, chances are you're going somewhere in awards season. So for actors and actresses, that's what they want; that's where they want to be. The Weinstein Company was the destination for people. So--

HOOVER: Which makes it incredibly fraught. And also, you know, first of all, we all know it's incredibly hard to come out and say something. Right? But once one person does it, it's easier for others, too. Meryl Streep's voice was sort of the canary in the gold mine yesterday. It really began.

CUOMO: We just lived through a campaign where -- and I -- look, I know people are going crazy about this suggestion of mine. I don't care. It's just the truth.

You know, these allegations came out about the president of the United States now during the campaign. He had that ugly tape on "Access Hollywood." People dismissed it immediately. We were shocked at how little impact that that tape had. And I'm not saying that he's Harvey Weinstein.

I'm just saying the cultural discussion about why women don't want to come forward, why nothing changes, why do you see men abuse the power dynamic on a regular basis? Why wouldn't it be that way when it was just ignored in a national election?

HOOVER: Well, here's what I actually think is an important conversation for Republicans and Democrats, to the extent that this has been politicized. I mean, the RNC has some statements about why Hillary Clinton and Obama hadn't come out yet, now they have out.

As somebody who was at FOX News and watched that story unravel -- Alisyn and I talked about it here on air -- it's shocking to me how differently the left and the right have handled major sex scandals.

When Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes were revealed to be predatory, I can point to two people in the conservative universe who said this is bad behavior and it is not conservative. One was Peggy Newman. One was David French of "National Review." Nothing else from anything else.

On the left, you have movie star after politician, after U.S. senator disassociating themselves, disavowing, condemning bad behavior. And a really stark contrast culturally between how the political left and the political right handle this situation.

CAMEROTA: That's a really interesting point.

Hadas, sorry to ignore you. We've been engaged in this very lively conversation. From where you sit, you're there obviously in the Capitol, what do you think is notable about everything that's happened in the past 72 hours?

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS MEDIA AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: What's definitely notable is how much this has shaken the Democratic Party especially those who were really close with Harvey Weinstein. Obviously, there are all of these pictures now circulating around of Weinstein smiling and schmoozing with all these Democratic cultures, but also with the Trumps, with Ivanka, with Jared -- Weinstein.

And it's just, listen, I think that these things just keep coming up, because as we're seeing is the tide is turning, as Nischelle was saying. Woman are coming up and starting to speak out.

And what it's taking is sort of this group mentality that they can do it.

I actually spoke with one of the accusers that was in the most recent "New York Times" story, Dawn Dunning. And what she told me is that she is just surprised it took this long for it to come out. Her incident with him happened in 2004. She was 24 years old. She was a waitress trying to break through in the movies maybe.

And she had a similar encounter like all of these women where he appeared to her in a bathrobe and told her that she had to engage with him in sexual activity in order to get anywhere in the business.

She's not in the movies right now. She's doing costume designing. But she had no power at that time, and what it took in all this and what we're seeing, for example, with Roger Ailes last year, it takes a powerful woman, somebody who can stand up, somebody who has their own deep pockets who can do something about it.

[07:10:12] HOOVER: And honestly, what happened with Roger Ailes is actually, in some ways harder, because she had a lawsuit. She didn't just have an allegation or a claim that was backed up by others. She actually had it hard in a lawsuit. And I think that's what cracked it open. And I think, you know, all women continue to owe Gretchen Carlson a debt of gratitude.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, listen, this is what we're trying to struggle with, is what are we supposed to glean from all this? How will things change? When Gwyneth Paltrow says, "And it changes now. We're speaking out, and this will not happen again." That's great. I hope that's true. But what are we supposed to -- what lessons are we supposed to learn moving forward?

TURNER: Well, the tough thing here that we saw in this situation where maybe a reason why it took so long was because there was money used to silence women.

CUOMO: Right.

TURNER: Time and time again. There were at least eight settlements that we know about where women took money to be silent.

CAMEROTA: There's also a nondisclosure agreement.

TURNER: Right.

CAMEROTA: Legally, you know, you're bound.

CUOMO: But they go together. The settlement goes with it. But then there becomes a separate question of, well, you have legal responsibility about what you can sign away and pay away. You also have just an ethical consideration that I think often gets ignored. And it is a big part of the answer to your question, or your question about how do you change these things?

Look, what did Weinstein's company put out? "Any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein."

His company made a decision. Its board of directors made a decision. "We're going to take him at his word. We're going to take his defense."

People who worked there had to know. This is culture, not just criminality. It's cultural.

And again, men have to do the heavy lifting here, because it's our culture; it's our power dynamic; it's our abuse structure. But we just had an election where these ugly allegations came out and women voted for the man.

CAMEROTA: It wasn't just the tape. I want to be clear. I'm glad you keep bringing this up. It wasn't just the tape. There were allegations also against Donald Trump before he was president that there was physical accosting happening. Some women came forward with that. To your point, Chris, 16 former or current employees did speak to various reporters about this, about Harvey Weinstein. It's ranged from assistants to executives. People who had to arrange the meetings. TURNER: Well, I was going to say, Gwyneth Paltrow laid it out in --

in her story. She said she received, you know, information about meetings she had that came from her agency. So she thought, well, these things, I'm supposed to meet him here at this hotel?

CAMEROTA: In a hotel suite.

TURNER: I guess it's OK. Exactly. So when you have those things, what are you supposed to do?

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, that's one lesson that we can, I think, take away from this. No business meeting should be happening in a hotel suite. I think as a general rule, we can start with that. That was what he did. That's part of his M.O. And then he'd encounter them in a bathrobe, Hadas.

I mean, these things are so -- you know, in the light of day, they are mind-blowing. You know, when you're going to meet the most powerful man in your industry, you accept that this is how he does things.

GOLD: And I would also like to point out that in the story and as we saw in other places where this has happened, they talked about how there was a really weak human resources department. There wasn't this environment where there was confirmation in order -- where people felt comfortable to come forward and talk about this. They spoke about how the London bureau and the New York bureau had really weak human resources department.

And so women would band together. That shouldn't be the case. In any company, as of any size, and really especially of a stature of a movie company, there has to be these steps in place where, if something happens to you, to have somebody you can go to to feel comfortable speaking to them. And that that department has some power and can actually make things happen. Because if not, then there's no point in going to them. What recourse do you have, especially if you don't have the money, especially if you're in a situation where, if you speak up, because a lot of these women, it could ruin a lot of their careers.

And the other option was to stay quiet, and get a nice lump-sum payment and not rock the boat in any way.

HOOVER: And one other thing that, you know, people are looking at now, women should look at now, we should talk about nationally is forced arbitration. Because many of these contracts force women into arbitration. They don't have the ability to have a lawsuit.

CUOMO: But even then, so why does that exist?

HOOVER: Because Harvey Weinstein wants to be able to pay people off.

CUOMO: And that means a corporate entity, a board structure allows it to be part of their operating perspective. Look, now in some cases litigation is very expensive, and you want to find ways around it. That's true. But there are sensible limitations to that. You can't put all the

pressure on women to come forward when they are in the position to be victimized in the first place, as well. It's all on them. It's all on them. You have to come forward. You have to say these things, and that's how it's done. It's ridiculous.

The fact that you have this structure in a contract. Yes, you and I can arbitrate things. But not everything. Not when it's about whether or not I did something like that to you. Corporations allow where directors allow. The power will allow it. It's culture. It's not just law.

TURNER: It's also on us to say when a woman does, "I believe you, I stand with you. I hear you. Keep talking about it."

CUOMO: You can do that and vet for the truth. You can do both.

[07:15:02] CAMEROTA: Nischelle, Margaret, Hadas, thank you very much for the conversation. Great to talk to all of you.

We do want to get to breaking news right now, because the death toll is up to 17 in those raging wildfires in Northern California. There's also been more evacuations ordered as more than a dozen wildfires are reducing neighborhoods, as you can see, to ashes.

This is California's wine country. We're also getting a look at how fast this fire spread in this video. This was shot by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy as the flames then took over the roads.

CNN's Ryan Young is live for us in Santa Rosa, California. What is the situation there this morning, Ryan?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, just scary video when you watch it, just to see how fast that fire was moving. And to stand here, you get a chance to see the utter devastation that's been left behind.

At one point, some of this fire was moving as fast as hurricane-force winds, above 50 miles per hour. No, just look at this directly. We're standing in front of a home. Well, what's left of a home. In fact, this entire neighborhood is now gone. And two houses down you can see where that chimney still stands. But that's the only way we can kind of figure out the dividing marks here.

And as we pan back to the home over here, we were looking. And the only thing that we can kind of make out is the fact that there's that sewing machine that's kind of standing right there.

The other devastation here really stands out, when you think about there's 17 people have lost their lives to this fire. And another 183 people are missing.

Now, to tell you about the 183 people that are missing, they're not all presumed dead. There are some communication issues here, some major communication issues. So they believe some people they have not been able to get to. But that's what they're going to be working on in the next few hours to see if they can find them. Obviously, still active. Zero percent containment -- Chris.

CUOMO: Very frightening. The conditions are terrible. This fire is checking every box of risk to those who are in its way and those who are trying to stop it.

Ryan, be safe. Take care of the team. We'll check back with you soon.

So President Trump is challenging his secretary of state to an I.Q. contest. Is this a joke? That's what the White House says. But what about the stability of the people that we keep hearing are the wall between us and chaos? Next.


[07:21:17] CUOMO: The White House once again in defense mode this time about a joke, challenging the secretary of state to an I.Q. test.

A source tells CNN that the president wasn't joking when he made a reference to who had a better I.Q., him or Secretary of State Tillerson.

CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more.

And we don't really care about the joke, Joe. We care about it as a window into the stability of these people who are all-important around the president.


And some of the president's allies on Capitol Hill, who have grown weary of the chaos and the back-fighting, the insults coming out of the White House, are now calling for all the combatants can cut it out.

Meanwhile, the president, in controversy now, the White House in what is essentially a mode of trying to fix a huge problem, is looking at the situation where the president called for the -- a challenge to the I.Q. of the secretary of state as simply a joke made by the president.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He wasn't questioning the secretary of state's intelligence. He made -- he made a joke. Maybe you guys should get a sense of humor and try it sometime.

JOHNS (voice-over): White House press secretary Sarah Sanders downplaying President Trump's latest jab at his embattled secretary of state, insisting the president was kidding when he boasted about having a higher I.Q. than Tillerson during an interview with "Forbes" magazine. But it's not the first time Mr. Trump has used such a line.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of the pundits, you know, the guys, believe me, we're much smarter than them. I.Q.-wise, not even a contest.

I guarantee my I.Q. is much higher than any of these people. I want to match my I.Q. with some of those guys, with all of them!

JOHNS: A source close to the White House tells CNN the president was not joking but spouted off, because he's angry it was made public that Tillerson reportedly called the president a moron.

President Trump insisting he has confidence in Tillerson and dismissing suggestions he tried to undermine him.

TRUMP: I didn't undercut anybody. I don't believe in undercutting people.

JOHNS: This as President Trump continues to belittle the prominent chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, calling the Tennessee Republican "Liddle Bob Corker" after Corker publicly criticized the president.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE (via phone): Sometimes I feel like he's on a reality show of some kind. You know, when he's talking about these big foreign policy issues. We could be heading towards World War III with the kind of comments that he's making.

JOHNS: The White House flatly rejecting Corker's assessment.

SANDERS: Senator Corker is certainly entitled to his own opinion, but he's not entitled to his own facts.

JOHNS: And refusing to say if Corker should resign.

SANDERS: I think that's a decision for Senator Corker and the people of Tennessee, not for us to decide.

JOHNS: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says he discussed the escalating feud with the president while golfing Monday and is asking for an end to the war of words.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I don't think it's particularly helpful. And I think most people really don't care what two politicians think about each other. So I hope we can move on.


JOHNS: Today the president welcomes Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada to the White House for meetings, but we're not expecting the traditional news conference that usually accompanies a visit of a head of state.

Later, the president is heading out to Pennsylvania, where we expect one more pitch for his tax cut plan.

Chris and Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thank you very much.

Let's bring in our panel. We have CNN political analyst John Avlon and reporter and editor at large of CNN Politics, Chris Cillizza.

Chris, I'll start with you, because I know that you looked at the many times that President Trump invokes his I.Q. He is impressed by his I.Q. We don't know exactly what it is, but he does like talking about it.

[07:25:13] CUOMO: He also just spelled the word "little" with two "D's"--


CUOMO: -- in a tweet, so everybody's got a flaw in their game.

CAMEROTA: No, he did not.


CUOMO: If I could make it up, I would.

CAMEROTA: We don't know how he spells "I.Q."

CUOMO: All right.

CAMEROTA: "Failing 'New York Times'"--

CILLIZZA: Also, why is there an apostrophe at the end? But that's neither here nor there.

CAMEROTA: OK, let me tell you something.

CUOMO: That's not the first word he's misspelled, by the way.

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure you should ever start a sentence with "Was made to sound like a fool." But listen, we -- we're nitpicking about little things.

Chris, what does this mean for the secretary of state?

CILLIZZA: Well, not all of us can be best-selling authors. It -- what does it mean? It means that Donald Trump continues to focus on things that are pointless. Literally pointless as it relates to getting anything done domestically or dealing with the number of issues we have around the world.

They say he was joking. Look, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say he wasn't joking when he talked about I.Q. for a couple reasons. One, because he talks about I.Q. all the time, as you mentioned, Alisyn.

I've literally spent 30 minutes just going through his Twitter feed and found 20-plus mentions of it going back to 2013. He talks about how he has a much higher I.Q. than Jon Stewart, than Barack Obama, than George W. Bush, than Jeb Bush. He has one of the highest I.Q.'s. Rick Perry has a low I.Q. I mean, it's all there. And then we know that Donald Trump is not really that keen on joking

about how smart he is. This is something he takes very seriously. It's something he prizes. Forget I.Q., the number of times he says, "I'm really smart. I'm much smarter than these people. I went to Wharton. That's the best business school. You know, I know more. I have a really big brain."

These are real things he says all the time on the campaign trail and as president. So it's not the kind of thing he would joke about. And I think what we know about him is, he is not someone who takes slights well. He is not someone who lets things roll off his back.

CUOMO: That's the bigger point. That's the bigger point, is that we don't really care about whether or not it was a joke. It's about the stability of the people that Corker says are the wall between us and chaos.

And yesterday we heard Senator Ron Johnson, another, you know, serious Republican player, say, "I don't know. I'm OK with this, because we have Mattis. We have Kelly. We have Tillerson. So we're OK." That's the concern here. Is what is the stability around the president?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. That's the closest thing to comfort that Republican members of Congress can draw upon. Because what they know and what they say in private is what Bob Corker finally said in public the other day.

That the administration is functioning like an adult day care, and access of adult, trying to contain the president and dissuade him from his worst, most impulsive ideas. But they keep bubbling up, and we can't ignore them.

And this is the thing. I mean, we just had the president of the United States challenge his secretary of state to an I.Q. measuring contest. That is in no way, shape or form normal, folks. And obviously, the way he follow sit up with, "I know who would win," he's not joking; he's serious. Chris did a great job compiling some of those examples.

So look, if he won't release his taxes, I'd suggest this. Let the president release his I.Q. Let the entire cabinet do it. Let's really dignify this process. Because then maybe we can get some answers.

CILLIZZA: To John's point, just one -- I feel like there's a tweet for every occasion. But Donald -- Donald Trump at the inauguration lunch on January 19, the day before, said, "My cabinet has the highest I.Q. of any cabinet." So I mean, again, like, there's a moment for all of these quotes.

CAMEROTA: I like it. Put your money where your mouth is. Let's all take an I.Q. test while we're at it.

CUOMO: Sure.

CAMEROTA: It sounds great.

Is Chief of Staff Kelly, John Avlon, also on the chopping block? We don't know what Tillerson's future is. President Trump keeps, you know -- it's not damning him with faint praise, but it's certainly talking a lot about how secure John Kelly's job is and how much he likes John Kelly. And that's always worrisome.

He says, you know, that he's totally -- "Any idea that he would ever be fired is totally made up by the dishonest media. The chief is doing a FANTASTIC" -- all caps -- "job, for more and more, importantly, for the USA."

So OK, so maybe he's not going anywhere. Though there were reports that there are some serious tensions and problems between them.

AVLON: Yes. You know they always call the presidency the toughest job in the world? I think actually the toughest job in the world is being Donald Trump's chief of staff.

And John Kelly is walking that sort of thankless job with a degree of discipline, trying to impose it on the president and the White House. If the president is trying to gaslight him on Twitter, I think it's indicative of his underlying character. Because you're referring to stories that haven't been fully fleshed out.

That said, I do think, you know, not to take a page from the Republican members of Congress playbook, but the country is better off having Kelly manage -- manage this White House. Because if you go down the sycophant route again, that will be even worse.

CUOMO: We have a window into a potential disappointing future for the working class from the president, as well. He tweeted this morning that stock market's on fire, that we should report about that more.