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More Women Come Forward Accusing Harvey Weinstein of Sexual Harassment; Fires Continue to Burn Defiantly in Northern California; White House Claims "IQ Test" Challenge Was a Joke. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 11, 2017 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00] BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It just grows. The allegations strikingly similar among the women, and more people are really trying to separate themselves from Weinstein. His name has been moved from the credits, or dropped, rather, from the credits of shows he has produced like "Project Runway," and the board of the film company he co-founded may change its name as early as this week.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS: 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 MacFarlane even knocked Weinstein's bad reputation at the Oscar nomination in 2013.

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

(LAUGHTER)

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" the 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 went to the bathroom and came back out of the robe in a robe and asked me to give him a massage. I said no, I didn't feel comfortable. He said everybody does it.

GINGRAS: Two other women recounting similar stories on CNN last night.

KENDALL: He said, at least if you won't 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 I don't doubt that he could, but he said you have to watch me, but you have got to stay and watch me masturbate.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a famous guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am feeling uncomfortable right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just come in now and one minute, and if you want to leave when the guys comes --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why yesterday did you touch my breast?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, please, I'm sorry. Just come on, I am used to that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you used to that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Come in.

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 Obama's 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."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS: 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. Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Brynn, thank you for very much for all of that.

Joining us now is one of the women profiled in the "New York Times" story who says she was sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein in 1984. Tomi-Ann Roberts was a 20-year-old waitress, an aspiring actress, and she says Weinstein invited her over to read a script. When she got to the meeting place she discovered Weinstein naked in a bathtub. She says he tried to pressure her to take off her clothes, claiming she would have to do that for a movie role. She rejected his offer, and today she's a psychology professor researching sexual objectification. Tomi-Ann, thank you so much for being here to share your story. Why now, why if this happened in 1984, why are you willing to come public now?

TOMI-ANN ROBERTS, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, COLORADO COLLEGE: Well, there weren't a lot of opportunities in my life as an academic to find what phone number I was supposed to call, pick up the phone and tell someone at the Weinstein company this happened to me. In fact, I remember thinking, who would care? So when I read "The New York Times" article on Thursday I thought this was my first opportunity to actually tell my story, and the whole arc of my story, of course, includes that I ended up becoming someone committed to studying and righting the wrongs of sexual objectification. And so I sent an email to Jodi Kantor, the reporter at the "New York Times." And I remember copying the emails to my mother and saying surely Jodi Kantor won't read this email, but if felt good for me to finally tell someone who would care that this had also happened to me.

[08:05:12] CAMEROTA: And had you told anybody? Forget at the Weinstein company, but when it happened back in 1984, had you ever discussed it?

ROBERTS: Oh, yes. I got out of this apartment and I ended up going to a pay phone and calling my then boyfriend at the time. A bunch of college students had sublet an apartment in New York and we were all pursuing internship-style dreams that summer. I also told my parents, and then over the years, as you might imagine in the hallowed halls of academia, there aren't a lot of opportunities to say something like the casting caption is real, but surely and certainly over many -- oh, it has been 33 years, it's hard to imagine, but there have been several friends that I confided that this happened to me. It's hard. You need to find the right audience. You need to feel safe that somebody is going to believe you.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but I do think that there's something really instructive, particularly in this story, how many women at the time did tell people. Basically, everybody -- all of the people who had an experience with Harvey Weinstein did tell their boyfriend or their parents or anybody who would listen, but as you pointed out so well, there's no magical hotline to call when something like this happens to you and tell an authority.

ROBERTS: Absolutely, and isn't that an indication of the structural, sort of systemic support for the idea that, well, men will be men and women's primary -- especially young women's primary stock and trade, their currency, the thing they can or cannot choose to trade to get something, is their sexualized bodies.

So I think everybody, the collusion is so astonishing, and I think in some cases, of course, it's because people like my parents thought, who are we to say anything? And in other cases I think we really ought to hold accountable some fellow executives, some fellow powerful people who perfectly, voluntarily, exited hotel rooms because it was Mr. Weinstein's turn to have a private meeting with a young actress.

CAMEROTA: That is such a great point, but we now know as of today from the reporting in "The New Yorker," 16 former and current executives and assistants at Weinstein's companies told the reporter that they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching that he was responsible for. So the collusion that you talk about, it does require for people to be in on it. If you are setting up appointments at a hotel room where somebody can be in the bathtub when you show up, other people do tend to know about those things.

ROBERTS: That's right. And I think that that's why I am just so proud of Gwyneth Paltrow saying this way of treating women stops now, because that statement invites all of us to participate in putting our foot down and saying no. It invites all of us to recognize that in small and big ways we're part of this problem.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about that, because you are the perfect person -- not only did this happen to you, the incident then colored your career path. You then chose to go into psychology to study sexual objectification to figure out how this happens, what the power dynamic is, why this happens. And so what is the answer today? You have studied this. What are women to do when something like this happens to them?

ROBERTS: Right. I think as a psychologist, I'm just so fascinated and, of course, disheartened by the ways in which we start training very young girls very early on to self-objectify, to have a view of themselves as a person whose primary value is in how pretty and eventually how sexy you are. And once you've internalized that, that's almost like a colonization of the mind, if you will.

So then it's not even going to take any kind of forceful power on the part of someone like Mr. Weinstein to coerce and intimidate gently via that internalized feeling. And so now you've got this internalized feeling my primary value is how pretty I am and how I look, and here's this man somehow indicating that that aspect of myself is the tool that I have to use to get this part. It's almost chilling to think how this kind of behavior requires a sort of internalization of shame and a desire to be considered somebody whose value is how sexy and pretty you are.

[08:10:09] CAMEROTA: And yet, I just want to interrupt, because one of the things I was struck by is what you did and what so many of the women did, if they were able, if he wasn't physically overpowering them or blocking them, people did stand their ground. People did say I am not comfortable with that, I am not going to do that. You did that. Ultimately you said I am not comfortable taking off my clothes even for the part you are promising me.

ROBERTS: Absolutely. And I think -- I look back on the 20-year-old that I was then, and I am not sure -- there was some quiet voice inside of me that whispered get out now. But I will confess that I was very polite about it. I apologized to the man. I took it upon myself that I wasn't cool enough or courageous enough to do something like this. It took me a long time for me to recognize that that was a sick power play, that wasn't me not cooperating with something that's cool and fun. That was me being coerced to do something demeaning. But at the time that was very hard to know. I got myself out of there but I got myself out of there by talking my way out.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Well, we appreciate you talking now. Tomi-Ann Roberts, thank you very much for sharing your story and all that you have learned about this subject matter. Thanks so much for being with us.

ROBERTS: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're watching these fires in Napa, California. The death toll now up to 17. Northern California is literally just burning out of control in places. Evacuations in place, more ordered. More than a dozen wildfires reducing parts of that state's wine country to ashes. We are also getting a look at how fast this fire spread. Take a look at this video. This was shot by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy. He's driving through. He is supposed to be doing checks to see where the fire is, who could still be in their home. God forbid anybody is still in their homes in this. It looks like he's driving through one of the circles of hell.

CNN's Ryan Young is live in Santa Rosa, California. Thank God you were not in that car. Hopefully you are keeping you and the crew safe. What are all the factors going into to making this fire so hard to contain days in, still zero percent.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Still zero percent contained, exactly right. When you talk about that circle of hell, when you look at this, this looks like a war zone. When you talk about police officers, they are still out here in force right now because, Chris, one thing we have not talked about all morning is the fact that looters have been showing up to these homes that have been devastated by this fire.

I want to show you this as we walk around here. We have been looking at homes like this one. This entire neighborhood is gone, and it's very hard to make out anything in these homes. In fact the only thing we can make out in this one is a washer and drier that's in the distance there.

But when you talk about the toll here, 17 people dead, and this chilling fact -- 183 people missing. They don't believe all those people are dead. They believe some of them might be just out of communication because there are major cell phone issues in this area.

Then you have to think about another 20,000 people who had to evacuate their homes to get away from the fast-moving fire. At one point the winds, 50 miles per hour. There were hurricane-force winds with that fire added to it. When we drove around here, the utter devastation was just unbelievable to the eye. They are hoping today to get a hold on some of this, but more heavy wind could be on the way. This could be another long day, especially for those heroic firefighters who are trying to knock this blaze down.

CUOMO: Be safe, thank you for the coverage. We'll check back with you.

Joining us is the mayor of Napa, Jill Techel. Ms. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us.

MAYOR JILL TECHEL, NAPA, CALIFORNIA: Yes. It's early here, but glad to talk with you.

CUOMO: It is really early and we really are trying to get the word out there so that people can be connected to the need that is going to take place in Napa and the surrounding areas. Have you ever seen a fire like this?

TECHEL: No, no. We had a fire 35 years ago up on Atlas Peak, so about the same area that the fire started in this time, but they had it under control within three or four days, and this one still isn't under control.

CUOMO: First, let's tong about the threat to life here. How concerned are you that you don't know whether or not everybody is safe in these areas?

TECHEL: It's a big concern. We want to get the message out. People are looking for people. There are still areas in the county, the unincorporated part of Napa County, where they have not been able to get up the roads to be sure that there are not people that were trapped. So that weighs heavy on us.

CUOMO: We know you had a chopper out there early on, dozens of people being removed from their homes, and people are losing their lives.

[08:15:02] This heartbreaking story, this couple, they were 100 and 98 respectively. They're married 75 years. They spent decades their in Napa, and they couldn't get out of their home in time. What a heartbreaking story.

TECHEL: Yes, yes, long time Napans.

I was able to talk to one of the helicopter operators who had -- his staff had been involved with the rescue. He said it was amazing they got those 41 people off that mountain and to safety.

The fire started -- I got a phone call on Sunday night at 10:30 saying there's a fire near the country club, and within an hour and a half, it was engulfed. So, people didn't have very long to decide to get in their cars and to get off the mountain and where it's safe.

Now, we still -- the fire is still not under control but we are able to watch it. We've got 500 crews here. We've got the California Department of Forestry here that's managing the fire.

Last night, we had evacuation notices up at the veteran's home, and you talk about elderly and we wanted to make sure they would be safe. They got the really frail out of the veteran's home, and then the fire changed directions and they didn't need to evacuate the whole home.

But, you know, we are set up with buses and everything we need to do if we get the call that a part of town, or part of Napa needs to be evacuated.

CUOMO: And, look, I know when people here Napa, they think wine. But, obviously, with this type of danger, and fire is the most unpredictable in the world, you've got to worry about loss of life. We'll figure out what it means to the wine country after people are out of harm's way.

Ms. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us. Please see us as a resource, and let us know what information to get out to people. Even though it's early, we got people watching on the West Coast as well.

TECHEL: You do. Thank you. Thank you very much.

CUOMO: OK.

Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: All right, Chris.

What's going on between President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson? Should they have an IQ test contest? Should all of us take an IQ test today? The latest from the White House, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:20:50] CAMEROTA: The White House says President Trump was joking when he challenged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to an IQ test, but a source tells CNN that's not the case.

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

What have you learned, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, I don't know if you can call it damage control, but they are trying to clean it up over here at the White House after the president launched that controversy over comparing his IQ to his secretary of state in an interview in "Forbes" magazine.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

JOHNS: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders downplaying president's latest jab at his embattled secretary of state, insisting the president was kidding when he boasted about having a higher IQ than Tillerson during an interview with Forbes Magazine.

But it's not the first time Mr. Trump has used such a line.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of the pundits, you know, the guys believe, we're much smarter than them. IQ-wise, it's not even a contest.

I guarantee my IQ is much higher than any of these people.

I want to match my IQ 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 was 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 Tennessee Republican little Bob Corker after Corker publicly criticized the president.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: 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 headed towards World War III with the kinds 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 or 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Today, the president welcomes the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the White House for meetings, but they're no expected to have the full blown news conference that often accompanies a head of state. After that, the president is expected to head out to Pennsylvania where once again he's expected to launch a pitch on his tax cut plan.

Chris and Alisyn, back to you.

CUOMO: All right, Joe.

The tax cut plan is going to be a huge measuring stick for voters, especially those who voted for Trump. Let's bring in our panel, CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein,

and CNN politics reporter and editor at large, author of "The Point," Chris Cillizza.

Ron, we don't really care about whether or not the IQ test was serious or a joke. We care about the stability of the people that Corker says are the buffer between us and chaos.

What do you think the stability is of the secretary of state?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you put your finger in the right place. I mean, you know, we know that the president for both political reasons and seemingly psychological reasons enjoys, is drawn to, is compelled to kind of undertake a series of personal feuds with people around him, both in his administration and even his sensible allies on Capitol Hill.

And you can get wrapped around the axle on that, and lose sight of what we are dealing with here, where you had the secretary of state, you know, apparently call the president a moron after a meeting in which we now know the prompt was a demand for a massive increase in nuclear capacity.

But even more importantly, Chris, I think to describe what is going on between the chairman -- the Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee, and the president as a feud really misses the importance of it.

[08:25:04] You know, we've had Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairs criticized policies of the president in their own party before and most notably William Fulbright becoming an early critic of the Vietnam War.

But I am unaware of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioning the basic competence of the president of their own party and saying by temperament, they are so reckless and volatile, they are a threat to the security of the nation and the world, that is being lost in this, you know, Lindsey Graham saying, stop the war of words. I think what we -- the focus needs to be is on assessing that basic judgment and whether other Republicans, in fact, as Senator Corker said, privately agree with what he said.

CAMEROTA: Right. But, I mean, Chris Cillizza, as we've all spoken about, none are as public as Corker, none are calling out. This didn't open the flood gates as some people predicted it might.

So, what do -- if people feel this way in the halls of Congress but they are not saying it, they're just hoping, fingers crossed, that their agenda is going to somehow happen, tax cuts, et cetera, et cetera, and that's what we are waiting for?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I mean, maybe, Alisyn.

I tend to think the first nine months of this administration has put to lie that idea that, well, Trump will just green-light our whole agenda, and we'll just take cares of everything. That, you know, which was the Paul Ryan explanation for why he ultimately was for Donald Trump.

I think it's more decision making. It's not a coincidence that the one senator willing to, as Ron I think rightly points out, hit at the real questions, stability and competence, those are the two things that Bob Corker has talked about repeatedly since August about Donald Trump, the one person willing to do that in the Senate also happens to be someone who is retiring from the Senate.

Donald Trump is not broadly popular in this country, somewhere in the high 30s, low 40s. Where he remains sort of a big figure is in the Republican base in a primary, in a mid-term election, in Wyoming or Mississippi, or any of these other places we know Steve Bannon is trying to recruit candidates, being against the president in a very public way is damaging.

I will give you one example, Jeff Flake. Jeff flake is touted as a hero to many Republicans privately, and Jeff Flake's numbers in Arizona are terrible after he took on President Trump and may well lose a primary if he ultimately runs for re-election.

So, you can look at that and say Flake is a hero. Well, he may be a hero out of a job in a year or so and it depends on what you want to come down on what real leadership means. But I think that's the reason you got lot of them staying quiet.

CUOMO: Well, you got the politics but then you have, well, why do people care? And the reason, you know, to just rebut Senator Graham's presumption that people don't care about disagreeing politicians, but they care about progress. And this was a mandate election, which was help us in the middle class, the desperation is real, Trump says he recognizes it, he's going to help us.

So, the inertia on the tax plan, Ron, looms large, that's where it comes home to roost for the president of the United States. If he doesn't have the cooperation within his own party, how does he get that done? Because that early proposal that cut out there, they can say it's the first draft. It was filled with things that don't deliver on his promise by definition.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, again. But just to underscore, with all due respect to Senator Graham, it's not just a war of words, it's a questioning of the basic competence of the president --

CUOMO: True, true.

BROWNSTEIN: -- to executive foreign policy. So, it affects the daily potentially affects the daily lives of people all over the world.

Secondly, though, yes, look, the tax issue, I think, kind of presents the same similar challenge as health care, where you have a president elected as a populist outsider, who uses cultural issues to define himself of the champion of Americans who feel as though they are being left behind in a changing country. As on the health care bill, he has embraced a tax plan that is a much more conventional American blueprint, the vast majority, even raising taxes on a substantial portion of the upper middle class. And I think that the challenge of kind of navigating a bill with that distribution through Congress is going to be formidable and I think it's also going to push him toward more cultural confrontation as a way of holding the voters who maybe disappointed in the economic agenda as on health care.

CAMEROTA: And, Ron -- very quickly, Chris.

CILLIZZA: Just to add -- very quickly, remember, health care is instructive of another way, per Ron's point, which is remember when Donald Trump would sit down with the Republican senators and try to cudgel into it. And what did they all come out saying privately? He doesn't know anything about the policy, right?

It's just sort of like, hey, we got to do this. Obamacare is bad. Now, theoretically, as a business guy, he knows more about tax policy, but I think they're going to run into that same problem, they are not just going to do it because he tells them to do it.

CAMEROTA: All right. Chris Cillizza, Ron Brownstein, thank you very much.

CUOMO: So, we are seeing more and more women coming out and saying Harvey Weinstein harassed me or worse.