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AT THIS HOUR
WAPO: Woman Says GOP Senate Nominee Roy Moore Initiated Sexual Encounter When She Was 14, He Was 32; GOP Lawmakers To Moore: Resign If Allegations True; Moore's Brother To CNN: He's Being "Persecuted"; WSJ: Flynns Were Offered Up To $15M To "Forcibly Remove" Cleric To Turkey; Showdown Ahead Over House, Senate Tax Bills. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired November 10, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:08] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. This morning, President Trump and the Republican Party waking up to something of a nightmare. The party's nominee for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, Roy Moore, accused of sexually abusing a 14- year-old girl decades ago.
"The Washington Post" with that bombshell report also spoke to three other women who say Moore pursued romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. There were 30 people that "The Washington Post" spoke to, to corroborate these stories.
Moore, of course, is no stranger to controversy over the years. He won the Republican primary with the backing of the president's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and his anti-establishment movement. Today, Moore is now facing a flood of calls from his own party to step aside.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: If there is any shred of truth to these stories, he ought to step aside now.
SENATOR JOHN THUN (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Allegations, if true, to me, means he needs to step aside.
SENATOR RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: If that's true, I don't believe there would be any place for him in the U.S. Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And here's how the White House responded to the news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person's life. However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: But Roy Moore is not dropping out. He's not backing down. He's not stepping aside. He says he is innocent. He is -- he himself a victim of, quote, "Liberal media and the forces of evil."
He also says he will never give up the fight. So where does all of this leave this very important race as voters will get ready to head to the polls in just a month in Alabama. Let's go to Alabama.
CNN's Martin Savidge is there with much more. Martin, you just spoke to Roy Moore's brother. What is he saying?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Jerry Moore is the younger brother of Roy Moore and I asked him, when was the last time you had a conversation with Roy, and he said actually an hour ago.
And he, like his brother, is defiant and says that these allegations are absolutely false, that are being made against his brother, and Jerry Moore is saying when I questioned him why would these women come forward when they knew they were going to face such a political and public scrutiny?
He said, he believes that these women are either getting money or that somehow they are benefiting or directly aligned with the cause of the Democratic Party and the Democratic candidate in this case.
He goes on to then frame the rest of the conversation based upon the very staunch, very conservative religious beliefs. Jerry says that all of this now is in God's hands and when I said well, you know, about these women coming forward, when he said these allegations are false, he said the truth is that they will have to answer to God, again referring to the women.
And then he goes on to say that his brother, Roy Moore, is being persecuted as or like Jesus Christ was. So, he's making a very direct reference to his religious beliefs here. The family, of course, is very strongly surrounding their brother, the candidate.
Jerry also said that the very worried about their 92-year-old mother how she will react with all of this news as it's coming down right now. So, that's the feelings coming from the family, to surprise they would be very supportive of in this case, his brother, Roy Moore.
BOLDUAN: Martin, when it comes to what Jerry Moore said, that either aligned with or getting paid by the Democratic Party, Leigh Corfman (ph), the woman who was then 14, who -- tells this story about what happened when she was 14, very clearly says in the "Post" article that she has voted Republican. She voted for Donald Trump in the election.
SAVIDGE: Right. First of all, we have found nothing to support any of what Jerry Moore is alleging here that there was payment or any kind of allegiance to the Democrats and just as you point out, her voting record would seem to belie that.
There is no one that I've talked to in town, and I've talked to a lot of people, who is essentially saying that these women with the exception of Jerry Moore are liars. They don't have some sort of wild reputation in this town and, in fact, there are a number of people who say they're extremely courageous.
Roy Moore, of course, is not only famous, but he's powerful, well known, and has a lot of political followers. For these women to come forward at this time, they know that they're going to get a lot of people coming down on them and they are.
So that is also to many people verification that they must be telling the truth here because they wouldn't put themselves through it -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: And all of this, I mean, this is -- we're not even 24 hours out, one month out from heading to the polls and cannot get off the ballot according to state law. Let's see where this goes. Martin, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Joining me now to discuss this the political fallout and where this goes from here, Scott Jennings is here, CNN political commentator, former staffer in the George W. Bush White House, David Mowery is a political consultant in Alabama, who's worked on both Republican and Democratic campaigns in the state, and the chairman of the Mowery Consulting Group.
[11:05:06] Karine Jean-Pierre is a senior adviser to moveon.org and a former Obama White House staffer, and Chris Cilizza is with us, reporter and editor-at-large for CNN Politics.
David, I want to first go to you. What are you hearing on the ground there?
DAVID MOWERY, ALABAMA POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, it's sort of like a grenade went off in the middle of the Moore camp. Everybody is kind of in disarray. People -- but then people are immediately going to their camps. Some people were saying it's not true, some people were saying, obviously, it's true or we've heard the rumors.
And everybody is worried about what happens to -- you know, what happens because they can't take him off the ballot. This is a guy that's been thrown out of his job twice and he has -- you know, he keeps coming back.
And so, there's no way he's going to drop out and so everybody is just sort of hand wringing right now. I think that everybody is very much trying to get a handle on where they go from here.
BOLDUAN: Scott, he stays in. He says he's not backing down. He stays in. Just look forward, he stays in, and what do Republicans do for the next month?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he could stay in and he might win the race. But that doesn't make it right and Republicans I think would do well to continue to distance themselves from this kind of a candidacy. He might win this race but these candidacies throughout 2018 would be devastating to Republican prospects to keep the Senate.
I've been thinking about what's the loyal Trump position here. If you want the president to succeed, what's the loyal Trump position. The Trump position should be to get better candidates who don't have these problems, who are going to help the president enact an agenda.
I don't know that Roy Moore is a loyal Trump supporter. I know these kinds of candidacies destroy the Republican brand, which hurts the president's agenda. So, there's a million registered Republicans in Alabama.
I imagine we can find one who can get elected to the U.S. Senate that's not being accused of molestation. We ought to try to do it (inaudible).
BOLDUAN: What do you think about what Mitt Romney said on Twitter, not of the political mind of Roy Moore or Steve Bannon, so this is not -- this is not shocking to hear from Mitt Romney but encapsulates what a lot of Republicans are saying.
"Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman, her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside." But does that change the minds of those who are supporting Roy Moore? Do you see anything changing in the next month?
JENNINGS: No. I think a lot of people in Alabama will view this through the lens of tribalism, which is how we do everything, which is terrible, but it also underscores just how problematic the lack of trust we have in the media is today. People go to their camps.
When you see something if you're a Republican from "The Washington Post" or a national media outlet, you immediately distrust it. Look, this is a well-reported story. They've interviewed 30 or 40 people. The women are on the record in their own names. It's well reported.
We'll never have proof that it happened or that it didn't happen, but that doesn't make the story not true and it doesn't make it not well reported. So, this is one of those things we're going to look back on and say why does media distrust matter right here because when we have a serious allegation on the record, immediately folks run away from it and choose not to believe it.
BOLDUAN: You know, Karine, I was thinking this morning this also poses a very interesting moment for Democrats right now. How hard do they push on this? Could it backfire on their hopes of getting the Democrat elected in this race?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER FOR MOVEON.ORG: I think the Democrats should definitely focus on this. Look, Doug Jones, who is seen as a hero in Alabama, prosecuted the Klansmen, who bombed the 16th Baptist Church which killed four little girls, so he is seen as somebody who is truly a hero for folks in Alabama.
And so, he's a great candidate. This is -- this was a competitive race before this explosive story came out, because the truth about Roy Moore is Republicans were supporting a bigot, somebody who is homophobe, somebody who is seen as a racist, somebody who was removed twice from the bench because he wouldn't follow the letter of the law.
BOLDUAN: But he already won in the Republican primary.
JEAN-PIERRE: That's exactly right. We look a year ago, Donald Trump won Alabama by about 30 points. Now, Roy Moore versus Doug Jones, the Democrat nominee, it's about 11 points, single digits. We've never seen that in the state of Alabama.
Mitt Romney won the state in 2012 by 60 points. So now this race is actually competitive. So, Democrats need to actually put some money into the state and focus and just talk about the issues at hand.
BOLDUAN: Chris, he can't get off the ballot at this point. They --
CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: That's right.
BOLDUAN: So, let's say he wins. Let's say he wins. What do Republican senators do when he gets to Washington?
CILIZZA: That's their nightmare scenario, but as Scott pointed out, I wouldn't say it's likely but it's certainly not 5 percent chance. I think a lot of people assumed after yesterday, oh, man he's done for, not necessarily.
I urge you to read some of the comments out of Alabama by county commissioners, by even statewide elected officials about Roy Moore. They sound a lot more like his brother than they do like Scott Jennings.
[11:10:04] If he wins, it's -- you take what is already a problem and you make it an even bigger problem because you can't not seat him. The Senate does not have that power. The Senate can't say we don't like him, we can't seat him. You have to seat him and then you have decide --
BOLDUAN: And they have to work with him.
CILIZZA: -- first you have to decide do you try to expel him from the chamber, which would require a two-thirds vote and hugely controversial because no matter what you think of Roy Moore, he would have had won a primary, a runoff and a general election in Alabama, right.
I mean, that would clearly suggest he is the person that Alabamans want to represent them in the Senate. So, expelling him would be tough, but you're right, Kate, if you didn't go that route, now you to figure out what do you do with this person in your ranks?
Does this represent -- I think Scott hits this well, is winning worth it? Does this represent what the Republican Party needs to defend and be for? I mean, I think from a political perspective the answer has to be no. The Republican brand is already in really bad shape. People look at the CNN poll. You can't have -- people -- Republicans I talked to are worried about Roy Moore long before this came out because of his tendency to say and do controversial things. This takes that and exponentially makes it more worrisome for them.
BOLDUAN: David, can you gut check us really quick. At this point, I mean, it's one thing to have a conversation in Washington and have a bunch of politicians talking, quote/unquote, "establishment politicians" in Washington saying what they think should or shouldn't happen and something very different on the ground and the voters on the ground are who decide who goes to the Senate. At this point, if you had to bet, do you think he wins this race?
MOWERY: Yes, unfortunately, I think right now, you still have to give him the advantage. I think that the Jones folks really need to take -- they need to take advantage of this, you know, of this interception or this game-changing play and they need to get Republican surrogates.
They need to get established Alabama, you know, personalities to come out and say look, hold your nose and vote for the Democrat because we cannot send this guy up there. He's also a guy that, you know, he was thrown out of the last two bodies that he served on, you know, the Supreme Court, and so it's not like he's known as being a team player.
But I just think right now, you still have to give him -- you to give the advantage to Moore. He has won election after election. The closest that he's come was in 2012. Bob Vance ran within about three points of him.
And so, the Jones folks need to pour on money and the right type of message to get him across the line, but I would say that that still is less than 50/50 chance.
BOLDUAN: David, can I ask as you lay it out like that, why do people keep supporting this guy?
MOWERY: You know, that is a question that a lot of Alabamians have behind closed doors and in hushed conversations in bars and things like that ever since. Who the heck votes for him? I don't know anybody that votes for him and he just keeps winning. I think that's one of life ponderables, Kate. I'm just not sure.
BOLDUAN: Life ponderable. We do a lot of life -- not even close life ponderables on this show. Why does it seem there is a different standard when it comes to media, entertainment and business than there is in politics today? Ponder that. Great to see you guys. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Coming up for us, a secret kidnapping plot, a promised payment of $15 million from Turkey, it could be the plot of a spy novel. It's probably the plot of many a spy novel, but it is right now the latest leak coming from the Russian investigation, now a very big part of reportedly Bob Mueller's investigation and may mean big trouble for the president's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Plus, President Trump and Vladimir Putin shaking hands this morning at a summit in Vietnam. What about the one-on-one? Is that the extent of the one-on-one? We'll let's see. Let's figure out what the White House says. The kremlin says it might happen. Why is this such a question still? That's coming up.
BOLDUAN: A secret plan to grab a legal U.S. resident in the middle of the night drop him on a prison island overseas all in exchange for up to $15 million. Sounds like a movie. Have you seen it in a movie before? Likely.
These are according to the "Wall Street Journal" the shocking allegations against President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn and his son. This plan was allegedly hatched during the transition last year and these are allegations the "Journal" says Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is investigating now.
CNN's Jessica Schneider following all of this for us now from Washington. Jessica, what more do we know about this reported plan?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, some stunning details here of this alleged plot. Michael Flynn and his son offered up to $15 million allegedly if they could somehow take Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, from his home in Pennsylvania and then deliver him to the Turkish government possibly by private jet. That's according to the "Wall Street Journal."
Now for a little bit of background on this Turkish President Erdogan has accused Gulen of masterminding the coup that attempted to overthrow his government in the summer of 2016. So, "The Wall Street Journal" now saying the FBI is investigating this.
They've interviewed four people about this alleged meeting where this offer was allegedly made in December 2016. Now we here at CNN had previously reported on a September 2016 meeting where the Muslim cleric's removal from the U.S.
It was also discussed and at the time when we reported it in March, former CIA Director James Woolsey said he attended part of that meeting as a Trump campaign adviser and here's what he said about what was discussed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: They want him out of the United States and in Turkey, right, and the reason I'm being cautious about how this is worded is because I wasn't there for much of this meeting.
But the -- I would say it was a little bit like if you see something say something on the train. It was suspicious, it was concerning, and I felt I needed to say something about it to someone. But was it a clear plot that they were going to seize him? No. [11:20:10] It was a deeply concerning conversation, but it was to the one that I could in a court of law, for example, say there was a clear plot to kidnap Gulen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: So Woolsey there referring to a September 2016 meeting but, of course, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting that there was a second meeting in December 2016 where the $15 million was reportedly offered. Now it's important to note Flynn's attorneys they have previously denied that Flynn ever had any discussions about this Muslim cleric -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: And also with regard to the Mueller investigation, the Mueller team has now talked to one of the president's top -- his current top aide, not even former, Stephen Miller.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, getting very close or into the inner circle now, Kate. Stephen Miller has been extremely instrumental, outspoken throughout this administration, and now we do know that he has spoken tonight special counsel.
Sources have told us that he was interviewed in particular about his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey back in May. We know that he helped President Trump draft a letter that explained the rationale behind the firing.
The letter, though, was never sent and the letter it has been handed over to Mueller's team as they probe possible obstruction of justice. So, we've also learned what's interesting, Kate, that Stephen Miller was inside a March 2016 meeting with the national security team, during the campaign, where George Papadopoulos pitched that idea of then Candidate Trump meeting with Russian President Putin.
So, of course, we know that Mueller's team is also interested in finding out more about what happened at that meeting. We know that the idea of President Putin meeting with Donald Trump it was dismissed by Jeff Sessions at the time.
Papadopoulos, of course, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts. But all of this being probed by Mueller's team, Stephen Miller just the latest person in the -- person with the most intimate details about the Trump administration also speaking to investigators -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: And everyone must stand by to see exactly where this all is headed. Thank you so much, Jessica.
So, all of that, Jessica was laying out, is one or two more headaches for President Trump while he is still overseas. Just as he is still overseas at the economic summit in Vietnam, while he was there he came face-to-face even shook hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But that much discussed one-on-one meeting sounds like it's not happening now. Let's figure it out. CNN's White house correspondent, Sara Murray, traveling with the president. She's in Vietnam with more.
So, Sara, there was all of this talk of a formal meeting and then an informal meeting, on again, off again, maybe, maybe not, substance, not substance, did the handshake all we're going to get?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, we may get a little bit more than the handshake, but we may not know much about it and may not even see it. The White House took the possibility of a formal bilateral meeting off the table today and basically said there's not time to do it.
Russia is still insisting that there will be a more informal pull aside. They say they're committed to making that happen and the White House has been saying it's not going to happen, but that does, you know, kind of minimize the amount of ground you can cover.
Obviously, it minimizes reporters' ability to get a look at what's going on there, maybe shout a few questions at the two world leaders. You don't necessarily have as much time to cover the array of topics that we expected would be on the table in a more formal bilateral meeting whether that is trade, Russian meddling in the U.S. election or trying to put more pressure on North Korea -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: All right. Sara, great to see you. Thank you so much.
So, still ahead for us, lawmakers face the new nightmare over the Roy Moore sexual abuse allegation, they're still trying to get a win on the board when it comes to their top priority, taxes.
With major differences between the House and Senate bill that was just put out, can they work it out in time before the end of the year deadline that they've set? What's at stake? We'll get to it.
Plus, Tuesday election results produced firsts across the country including the first openly transgender person to be elected to the state legislature. That winning candidate joins me live to talk about her groundbreaking victory.
BOLDUAN: Fasten your seat belts, it could be a bumpy ride on Capitol Hill over the next few weeks with a showdown brewing over none other than tax policy. Senate Republicans unveiled their plan for overhauling the nation's tax code just yesterday and already it's clear there are major differences to work out with the house if they're going to get anything to the president's desk.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is on Capitol Hill with much more. Sunlen, where do things stand right now?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the Senate just released their version of the bill and it does as you note reveal some pretty significant differences with the House bill that they're working on right now. Differences that should not be downplayed because it certainly reveals the amount of work that the House and Senate have to do to get to their self-imposed deadline of by the end of the year getting this done.
So, let's look at the differences between House and Senate bill. Some of the biggest sticking points here, the Senate bill, they keep the tax brackets as they are now at seven. The House has four tax brackets in theirs.
The Senate bill has a partial repeal of the estate tax and full repeal of the state and local tax deductions. The House bill preserve some of those deductions like the property tax. Big differences in the lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.
The Senate's bill calls for a phase in of that rate where the House bill has an immediate and permanent reduction of that rate. So certainly, these differences, most likely will lead to major sticking points ahead.
Already, we're seeing the Republican leadership up here try to downplay, though, these differences saying that we always knew this would-be part of the process. The House has their version and the Senate has their version and we reconcile the differences.