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Corfman Family Response; Bannon on Moore Scandal; GOP Response to Moore Accusations; Louis C.K. on Misconduct; Flynn Offered Money for Cleric's Return. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 10, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:18] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you so much for being with me on this Friday.
We begin with more Roy Moore fallout and the remarkable circumstances this has all created. Amidst the post-Harvey Weinstein awakening that has been sweeping this country, this man accused of sexually abusing an underage girl nearly 40 years ago could still become the next U.S. senator.
Republican candidate Roy Moore will not -- refuses to exit Alabama's Senate rate after these bombshell allegations detailed in "The Washington Post." They were made by a woman named Leigh Corfman. This dates back to 1979 when she was 14 years of age. She says Moore touched her through her bra and underwear and guided her hand to his underwear.
Roy Moore denies this, sending out multiple tweets in which he seemed to ignore the fact that Corfman is a Republican who told "The Post" that she voted for Donald Trump.
Here's a bit more of what Roy Moore has tweeted. Quoting him, the Obama Clinton machine's liberal media lap dogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks ever against me I've ever faced. That was just one of several, as you can see.
Meantime, the president of the United States is echoing the reaction of a lot of Republican lawmakers out there, urging Roy Moore to drop out of this U.S. Senate race.
Here is White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who is in Asia traveling with the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH 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) BALDWIN: Jason Carroll has been all over this. He's with us now.
And so you've been talking to members of Leigh Corfman's family.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have. And --
BALDWIN: And what are they saying?
CARROLL: And, you know, look, we spoke to them yesterday during the afternoon on your show when we talked about that, spoke to a member of the family again last night in direct response to those tweets coming from Moore himself.
First the tweets. I mean you saw part of it there. Moore basically this time, Brooke, he's blaming this on this -- what he is calling a Democratic conspiracy, a liberal left conspiracy, to discredit him. And so he is saying at this point, look, he's not going to give up the fight. That's a quote. He's not going to step down, saying, quote, I believe you, and I have a duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil, waging an all-out war on our conservative values. Our nation is at a cross roads right now both spiritually and culturally.
And so when I spoke to this Corfman family member last night, I said, I know you're hearing about these tweets. You know, what's your reaction to that? And he took a deep breath, and then he said the following. He said, I've been -- he said, I've learned in all my years not to get into a shouting match with someone like Moore. The Corfman family continuing to stand by the allegations that they made to "The Washington Post." They're not worried, they say, about any potential fallout in their community or otherwise.
But there are others coming to Moore's defense. Moore's brother spoke to CNN as well saying that he's going to continue to defend his brother to the hilt. That the allegations are not true. And he also compared what's happening to his brother to what happened to Jesus Christ in terms of what he calls persecution.
BALDWIN: How is this playing in Alabama? That's what I want to know. Jason Carroll, thank you so much.
We'll talk about that now. While President Trump is calling for Roy Moore to exit the race if these allegations are true, the president's former chief strategies is defending the Alabama Senate candidate. Here is Steve Bannon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: But it's interesting, the Bezos Amazon "Washington Post" that dropped that dime on Donald Trump is the same Bezos Amazon "Washington Post" that dropped the dime this afternoon on Judge Roy Moore. Now, is that a coincidence? That's what I mean when I say opposition party, right? It's purely part of the apparatus of the Democratic Party. They don't make any bones about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: With me now, Anna Claire Vollers, investigative reporter for Reckon by AL.com. She just interviewed the attorney of Moore's accuser, Leigh Corfman. And with us, CNN political director David Chalian.
So, welcome to both of you. And just, first, David, you know, Roy Moore -- big picture here first. Roy Moore comes from the Steve Bannon wing of the GOP. We've talked about this when this broke, you know, this time yesterday. For all the people, though, who are saying, there is no way this guy can now win this Alabama Senate seat, would they be mistaken?
[14:05:08] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, they would certainly be mistaken to say there's no way. I don't want to suggest that his path to the Senate seat doesn't become more complicated by this. It probably does. But it's hard to imagine that he's still not, on today's facts, without a write-in candidate coming in with his commitment to stay in the race, it's hard to say he's still not the likely next U.S. senator from Alabama. As you said, let's see how this plays out with some of his core constituencies around the state of Alabama in the next few days.
But, Brooke, as you were just noting there, yes, President Trump said if true he should go. That's what a lot of Mitch McConnell and a lot of Senate Republicans said. The question is, what -- where -- how are we ever going to find out "if true"? I mean it's not like this is going to be --
BALDWIN: We may never.
CHALIAN: Adjudicated in some way --
CHALIAN: Or gone into court. So it is either you believe that these allegations have enough credibility to them through the thorough reporting of "The Washington Post" and their -- and their documents and findings that back up their weeks long investigation that either you then think that that is sufficient enough to say this guy should not be running for Senate, or you don't think that's sufficient enough to say that this guy shouldn't be running for Senate. But the notion that we're going to have somebody just adjudicate and say, oh, no, this is true, and then all the Republicans need to recalibrate on this seems a bit farfetched to me.
BALDWIN: How is this playing out in Alabama? Anna, I am so glad you're on with us today. And we went through some of the tweets that we've seen from Roy Moore, in part, saying the forces of evil are waging a war on our Christian values. You know, his brother is comparing this to the persecution of Jesus Christ. The Alabama state auditor compared Moore and the young woman to Joseph and Mary in the Bible. Quoting him, Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There is nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.
How is this playing in Alabama, Anna? ANNA CLAIRE VOLLERS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, RECKON BY AL.COM: You
know, in Alabama, it's kind of a mixed bag. I mean there are plenty of people here who do not like Moore, but there are a lot of people who are skeptical about this -- about the allegations. You know, he's been a -- a larger than life force in Alabama politics for 30 years, you know, long before Bannon or anybody else came along.
And so, you know, he's done that by courting controversy and by talking a lot about family values, about faith, about his military service, which are all things that are very important to people here in Alabama. And I just don't think that his supporters, at least, and other conservatives are willing to throw away everything they know -- think that they know about him over this one story.
BALDWIN: I'm curious, Anna, given this larger than life character, for years in the state of Alabama, how do Democrats play this? Do they just give in the constituency in Alabama? Do they capitalize on this? Or is that politically treacherous?
VOLLERS: No, I think they can probably capitalize on this. You know, our -- the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones, is probably in the most enviable position that a Democrat could be in here in Alabama. Moore was divisive before all of this happened. And Jones has had a lot of support, even I think from some Republicans. And so I would probably not let this go out of the new cycle any time soon.
BALDWIN: David Chalian -- and it won't, because we've got a month.
David Chalian, you know, on the national scale, doesn't this also just really expose the divisiveness in an already fractured Republican Party? I mean it -- we've seen the John McCain, you know, step down now no matter what. Jeff Flake saying, come on, Republicans --
CHALIAN: Mitt Romney. Yes.
BALDWIN: Mitt Romney. So you have that. And then you have the Bannon -- the Bannons of the world.
CHALIAN: Yes, there's the Mitt Romney tweet there. I mean, innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. Her account is too serious to ignore.
You're right. So the two Republican nominees for president, the standard bearers of the party from 2008 and 2012, take one approach, which is, this person facing these allegations should not be the Republican candidate for Senate. That's different than the nominee from 2016 who is the sitting president who's saying, these are from a while back and we should see if these are true. And if they are, then he should step down. It's just a different position.
So you are right, Brooke, this does expose this divide in the Republican Party that we've been seeing. You can hear it across the board from how various members of the Republican Party have been responding.
The other thing to note here is, even if every Republican senator came out right now and said he should be gone, Roy Moore has provided zero indication that he's going to leave this race. And the Alabama state Republican Party has provided zero indication that they're looking to withdraw him as its nominee -- as the party's nominee, the state party's nominee. So even if there was a lot of chest pounding over this, it's unclear that that would actually move Roy Moore to leave the candidacy.
[14:10:00] BALDWIN: So therein lies the most important question, and, Anna, I'm going to leave this one with you. You know, you have the election weeks away with regard to these allegations. The statute of limitations is up. There will be no trial. The truth may never be known. What is an Alabama voter to do?
VOLLERS: Well, you know, they're going to see Moore on the ballot regardless. Even if he pulled out, there's a state law that prevents them from pulling somebody off the ballot this close to the election. So you know they can believe him, they can write in a candidate, they can vote Democrat for the first time possibly for a lot of them.
BALDWIN: Anna Claire Vollers and David Chalian, thank you very much.
CHALIAN: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Much more to come on all of this through this show and for the next couple of weeks, I'm sure.
Coming up next, though, breaking news. Comedian Louis C.K. has just responded to those explosive allegations by five women accusing him of sexual misconduct. "The New York Times" broke the story. He says, quote, these stories are true. More on his statement in a moment.
Also, the focus turns to Flynn. Explosive allegations against former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son and the $15 million deal they reportedly had with the Turkish government. All part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller probe, now clearly focusing on current and former members of President Trump's inner circle.
You're watching CNN. Stay here.
[14:15:51] BALDWIN: Here's the breaking news. Comedian Louis C.K. has just responded to those explosive allegations by five women to "The New York Times" who say he either masturbated in front of them or asked if he could. His statement begins with a full admission and personally name checks all of his accusers in the top line. So let me just read part of this for you.
Louis C.K. says, these stories are true. At the time I said to myself that what I did was OK because I never showed a woman my bleep without asking first, which is also true. But what I later learned in life too late is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your bleep isn't a question, it's a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me and I wielded that power irresponsibly. He goes on, after expressing regret and remorse, he says, I have spent
my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.
Chloe Melas is with us, CNN entertainment reporter, and Brian Stelter, CNN's senior media correspondent of host of "Reliable Sources."
And, to me, I mean we have seen a range of apologies or not apology apologies in the last couple weeks.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes.
BALDWIN: And the fact that he, you know, at least name checked these women, that struck me. In the first line of this apology, names these women who came out. It's a step in the right direction.
STELTER: And said the stories are unequivocally true.
STELTER: He didn't try to say, as Harvey Weinstein did five weeks ago, some of it's true, some of it's false. There were a lot of disjointed responses from Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood celebrities in recent weeks. This is different. In some ways it's refreshing to hear him very directly say, this is true.
CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Yes, I mean, to Brian's point, it's really long. I haven't really ever seen an apology from a celebrity like this before. Also, I mean, less than 24 hours after "The New York Times" dropped their story, he releases this statement. And if you look at, you know, the strategies of other celebrities recently, you have Weinstein that has deny, deny, deny and constant statements. Then you have Kevin Spacey that gives kind of like an apology, non apology. Like, sorry, not sorry. And then he, you know, goes radio silent.
STELTER: He came out in a statement as well.
MELAS: Came out in the same statement, got criticized for it, goes radio silent. Then you have Louis C.K. that goes on to apologize to his family and the movie that just got scrapped that was supposed to be released next week, "I Love You Daddy," he apologized to the cast and crew. I mean it's a very detailed apology.
BALDWIN: Isn't so much of this about -- of course part of it is you would like to think about the true, authentic, real remorse, right, sincerity in the apology. But let's be real, this is about career, reputation, bottom line.
STELTER: Right. Right.
BALDWIN: He's got a movie. You know, HBO.
STELTER: And Netflix said he was going to be in another -- another comedy special.
STELTER: That's been scrapped. HBO is taking his shows off of the on demand service. You know, FX. He has a long relationship with FX. They say they're reviewing the matter.
But, yes, these celebrities are thinking five, ten, 15 years down the road. And I think someone like Louis C.K., this is -- you know, he has a high profile publicist helping him write these statements.
STELTER: You can read the whole thing on cnn.com and judge it for yourself.
I do think he -- he continues to go back to the idea that these women admired him.
STELTER: And he took advantage of that fact that these women admired him.
STELTER: I think some people, though, are turned off by the way he says that over and over again in this statement. And at the end he says, I'll take a step back. So that's indicating he knows right now he's radioactive, but to your point, maybe down the road he's already thinking about a comeback.
MELAS: And it's not like he just heard about these allegations yesterday.
STELTER: That's a great point.
MELAS: There have been rumbling for a very long time that there was sexual misconduct by Louis C.K.
STELTER: Yes, rumors for years. Yes.
MELAS: Plenty of celebrities like Roseanne Barr and Tig Notaro have, you know, made reference to these allegations.
What I will say though is that, Brooke and Brian, I mean it really does come down to money for companies. Look at Netflix and Sony cutting Kevin Spacey out of a movie. All these companies want to distance themselves as quickly as possible. And Netflix, you know, kind of weighed the situation with Kevin Spacey. Then they came out like 48 hours later and said they weren't going to move forward with "House of Cards" if Kevin Spacey was going to be part of it. Then you look at Netflix with Louis C.K. and less than just a few hours they're like, we're not moving forward with a comedy special with him. It's about the bottom line and they don't want to alienate their audiences, which is why they're cutting ties so quickly when they're just allegations. BALDWIN: We were talking in commercial break, and just to share, what was your point about social media and how that's kind of changed the game?
MELAS: Well, I mean, with social media, I mean Brian knows, I mean he's on social media all the time. I mean you can gage public outrage to quickly now.
STELTER: Yes. Yes.
[14:20:06] MELAS: And companies can see immediately --
BALDWIN: Companies are looking.
MELAS: As opposed to like ten years ago when stories would come out about people. They can see immediately the reaction from people. And the reaction to Louis C.K.'s allegations were intense. There was not many people supporting him on social media. So immediately companies are like, all right, we don't want to affect our shows and our brand, so we have to cut ties with this person immediately.
STELTER: But in some cases we see companies taking more drastic actions than politicians. I think that's really interesting as we hear about
BALDWIN: Tale of two different --
STELTER: Harassment scandals on Capitol Hill
BALDWIN: Amen (ph).
STELTER: And in Alabama with these allegations against Roy Moore. It seems like corporate America, in some ways, is reacting more strongly, maybe paying closer attention to what consumers are saying.
MELAS: It's a good point.
BALDWIN: The point I was going to make in a little bit, but thank you very much.
STELTER: Bill Keys (ph) for you (ph).
BALDWIN: Brian Stelter, you're totally right.
Brian and Chloe, thank you all both so very much on all things Louis C.K. today.
STELTER: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next here, the shocking allegation about former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son. This one involves millions and millions of dollars and a plot involving a Muslim cleric living in America. Stay here.
[14:25:33] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
President Trump's fired national security adviser Michael Flynn is now under investigation for this alleged plot to forcibly send a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. to Turkey in exchange for up to $15 million. All this reporting coming in today from "The Wall Street Journal." His name, Fethullah Gulen, is in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania as Turkish President Erdogan seeks revenge, blaming Gulen for last year's failed military coup.
So let's go to Jessica Schneider. She's our CNN justice correspondent covering this for us from Washington today.
And so this is a huge, huge report obviously out of "The Wall Street Journal." And then how does the special investigation, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, factor in, in terms of what he's now looking into?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Mueller's team, they're working to get the details about this alleged offer that was reported by "The Wall Street Journal." So the offer was allegedly this, that Michael Flynn and his son would be paid up to $15 million if they could somehow forcibly remove Muslim Cleric Fethullah Gulen from his home in Pennsylvania and then deliver him to the Turkish government, possibly by private jet. So "The Wall Street Journal" reports that the deal was laid out at a meeting in December 2016 and the FBI now has questioned at least four people about the meeting.
Now, as some background here, that Muslim cleric has been living in the U.S. since 1999, but Turkey's president, Erdogan, he's accused him of masterminding a failed coup in the summer of 2016 and has been trying to get Gulen back to Turkey to charge him.
So Mueller team is now investigating this alleged offer. And, you know, notably, Brooke, it's a deal that was reportedly proposed at the 21 Club in New York City in December 2016. That was right during the transition. And just a few weeks after Michael Flynn had accepted the position as national security adviser.
So in addition to that meeting, we also know that Mueller's team is probing a meeting that Michael Flynn had just a few months prior to that in September 2016 where he met with representatives of the Turkish government also alleged discussed getting that cleric back to Turkey.
Now Flynn's lawyers have repeatedly denied that Flynn discussed this Muslim cleric at any meeting and, Brooke, we did hear today from Flynn's son's lawyers. They, right now, are refusing to comment on this report as well.
BALDWIN: Add it to the list of items Bob Mueller is looking into.
SCHNEIDER: A lot.
BALDWIN: Jessica, thank you. Thank you.
Coming up next, it was supposed to be a day focused on the Republican agenda, the big Senate reveal of the Republican tax plan. Instead, it was accusations of sexual assault against one of their own. We're going to show you how Republican lawmakers were responding to news about Senate candidate Roy Moore, including the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, right there in the middle of your screen, in a very awkward 44 seconds.