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New GOP Problem: Alabama's Senate Candidate; Will President Trump Meet President Putin? Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 10, 2017 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:14] ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: You know, before we can make America great again, we've got to make America good again.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Words that might come back to haunt. Explosive "Washington Post" report accusing Senate candidate Roy Moore of engaging in sexual conduct with a 14-year-old. President Trump and others calling on Moore to step down if the allegations are true.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump in Vietnam this morning along with --


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This port city is bustling with ships from all around the world.


KOSIK: And President Trump in Vietnam this morning, along with Vladimir Putin. Will the two leaders meet face-to-face? The Kremlin says yes.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: Good morning. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning.

BRIGGS: It's Friday. Exhale, it's November 10th; 4:00 a.m. in the East. It is 4:00 p.m. in Vietnam. We'll get there shortly.

But we start this morning with politics. Republicans this morning trying to figure out what to do about their sudden Roy Moore problem.

The Alabama Senate candidate accused in a stunning "Washington Post" report of sexual conduct on an underage girl.

A parade of leading Republicans echoing President Trump, calling for Moore to drop out if the special election if the accusations are true. Among them, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, one of just five Republican senators to endorse Moore. He said in a statement: These are serious and troubling allegations if they are true, Judge Moore should immediately withdraw.

KOSIK: Now, Alabama secretary of state says Moore can withdraw, but it is simply too late to replace him on the December 12th special election ballot, apart from a write-in candidacy.

Moore's predicament, it may increase the chances a Democrat could actually win a Senate seat in deep red Alabama, and potentially put the Senate within reach for Democrats in 2018.

BRIGGS: Moore has made a career of courting controversy. He was twice suspended as Alabama chief justice for defying federal court orders. He's no friend of the GOP establishment, having beat its preferred candidate, Senator Luther Strange, in a September runoff.

KOSIK: But some Republicans are coming to Moore's defense. Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler told "The Washington Examiner" this: Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There's nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.

BRIGGS: And former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon compared the claim of sexual misconduct with the shocking "Access Hollywood" tape released during the 2016 election.


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 is that a coincidence? That's what I mean when I say opposition party.


BRIGGS: Let that sink in.

For more on exactly what Moore's accused of, let's turn to Alex Marquardt in Gadsden, Alabama.



Well, these are explosive allegations coming just weeks before an already highly dramatic special race to replace Jeff Sessions in the Senate. These allegations centering around a young Judge Moore back when he was an assistant district attorney here at the court house in Gadsden, between 1979 and 1981. Four different women have spoken to "The Washington Post", alleging that he tried to sexually contact them or in fact did have sexual contact with them.

The most serious allegations coming from Leigh Corfman, a woman who is now in her 50s, but at the time was just 14 years old. She met a young Judge Roy Moore here at the courthouse with her mother, who was attending a child custody hearing. He exchanged numbers with Corfman and twice, she says, picked her up and took her back to his house. The second time she alleges, to "The Washington Post," he undressed her, touched her over her underwear and guided her hand towards his genitals.

There are also three other allegations from women who at the time range from 16 to 18 years old. They say that he either dated them or tried to date them and kissed at least two of them.

Now, these, of course, could be potentially very harmful allegation for a man, for a candidate who has centered his life, centered his candidacy on his morals and Christian values.

[04:05:00] Now, Moore came out swinging, slamming "The Washington Post" report in a series of tweets. The first of which read: The Obama Clinton machines liberal media lap dogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me I've ever faced. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silent our message -- Alison, Dave.


KOSIK: OK. Alex, thanks very much.

And also Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution requiring mandatory sexual harassment training for senators, staff and interns. The move comes amid growing sexual misconduct, scandals in Hollywood, the corporate world and the hall of Congress.

Yesterday, Senate resolution, it marks the first real step either the House or Senate has taken to change training rules on sexual harassment. Previously, the training was optional in both chambers and it remains voluntary in the House.

BRIGGS: While you are were sleeping, two prominent world leaders touching down in Vietnam, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. They're for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. The big question, will these two meet?

It could happen on the summit sidelines today, or tomorrow or never. A top Russian aide said the sit-down will happen today, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says no formal meeting is planned at the summit, though the leaders might still, quote, bump into each other.

KOSIK: Any meeting between Trump and Putin comes amid multiple investigations into Russian election meddling, not to mention indictments against Trump campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. The president also facing criticism for missing a deadline on enforcing sanctions against Russia for cyber meddling.

BRIGGS: The first meeting between Trump and Putin in July, the G20 Summit, caused a diplomatic furor. Russia said President Trump accepted Putin's assurance his country did not meddle in the 2016 election. U.S. firmly denied that. This time, the White House hopes to keep the focus off the president's trip to Vietnam squarely on business trade and security. For the latest, let's go live to CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, I'll say this once. Good morning, Vietnam. We had to do it once. We'll get it out of the way. What's the latest, sir?


I can tell you when President Trump arrived here in Da Nang, just a few hours ago, he did want to talk about, again, the trade imbalance he's been talking about, along his Asian swing. But it is that meeting or perhaps not a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that is indeed causing confusion here.

The White House en route from Beijing here to Vietnam, a White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said there would be no meeting. She said there would not be a formal meeting scheduled. It didn't work out.

But the Kremlin spokesman said there would be a meeting and he said that there was American confusion and conflicting signals. So, we'll have to stay tuned to see if these two leaders bump into each other at that economic summit here. But, it is the Russia cloud that is still hanging over this White House even though the president is here. So many developments there.

But the president, when he was addressing the APEC Conference this morning, he talked about how he still wants to put America first.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore. I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.


ZELENY: So, he's talking about the trade imbalance there, of course. You know, he campaigned so much on an anti-China, anti-trade platform. Now, that is a different message entirely here. But as he goes forward through meetings today, Dave and Alison, we'll keep you posted if he ends up bumping into Vladimir Putin in those hallways at this APEC Conference.

BRIGGS: Jeff, any opportunity to ask questions of the president? You were unable to in China, certainly, the questions will come about Roy Moore.

ZELENY: Right, no doubt. There is no opportunity that we see on the schedule to ask questions about the president directly. We do know, though, from the White House press secretary that the president said if these allegations are true, that Roy Moore should do the right thing. But he goes on to say that, you know, do not believe necessarily everything you read. So, that's the White House line on this. So, this is something they, of course, are watching very carefully

here from half way around the world because, of course, Senate control to hang in the balance of this decision.

BRIGGS: Yes, very narrow margin in the Senate.

Jeff Zeleny, live for us in Vietnam, thank you.

KOSIK: OK, now to new developments in the Russia investigation. Sources tell CNN that special counsel Robert Mueller has interviewed top Trump aide Stephen Miller. This is a first sign that Mueller's Russia probe has entered President Trump's inner circle.

BRIGGS: CNN has also learned that Mr. Trump's former security chief Keith Schiller told House investigators this week that he rejected a Russia offer to send five women to then businessman Trump's hotel room during a 2013 trip to Moscow.

[04:10:03] We get more now from CNN's Pamela Brown.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Alison and Dave.

We have learned that Steve Miller is now the highest level aide to President Trump, known to be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigators. And Miller is the White House senior policy adviser and he's been close to Mr. Trump since the early days of the campaign up until now. And sources told us that one of the topics investigators were interested in was his role in the president' decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey.

We know from sources that the Comey firing is part of the investigation into possible obstruction of justice. Now, part of the broader Russian investigation, special counsel investigators have also shown interest in talking to Trump campaign associates who attended a March 2016 meeting where foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos said he could arrange a meeting between Trump and the Russian President Vladimir Putin. So, all of that was part of the focus during the interview with Stephen Miller, we're told.

And meantime, we have learned that according to testimony from President Trump's long time body man and associate, Keith Schiller, he told House investigators this week that when President Trump went to Moscow in 2013 as a private citizen, a Russian came up to Mr. Schiller and said he could send up to five women to Trump's hotel room that night. Schiller testified that he took it as a joke. He rejected the offer and that Trump laughed it off as he was on his way up to his room, his hotel room.

Schiller left the room and said he didn't know what happened after that. And he also said he didn't know who the Russian was who made the offer but said it was someone in the group that was with Emin Agalarov, who was at a meeting with Trump. The Agalarovs, the Russian pop star whose father is a Russian billionaire who's close to Putin, they were behind the meeting allegedly, that 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where Russians promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. A lawyer for Emin Agalarov says that his client has no knowledge of the offer -- Alison and Dave.


BRIGGS: All right. Pamela Brown there in D.C., thanks.

Meanwhile, House and Senate Republican the unveiled dueling tax plans on Thursday and House Speaker Paul Ryan vowing Congress will get this key legislation passed.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We're doing this the right way. We're doing this regular order way. It takes time but trust me, we're going to get this over the finish line.



[04:16:20] BRIGGS: Four-sixteen Eastern Time. A tense showdown over tax policy expected in the coming weeks, now that Senate Republicans have unveiled their plan for overhauling the tax code. The measure significantly different from the House version.

We get more now from CNN's Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alison and Dave, for decades, just the opportunity to move a systemic tax overhaul through a committee process seemed to be an anathema, something that nobody could figure out a way to do, the lobbyist, the individual constituencies, it was extremely difficult.

Well, House Republicans on Thursday accomplished that. A major step forward for their effort to actually get a tax reform plan passed. However, if you wanted to know how big -- kind of long pathway they have going forward, well, just take a look at the Senate Republican bill which was introduced about 30 minutes before the House actually moved the bill through a committee.

Major differences throughout the bill. Take the corporate rate. The House immediately putting in a 15 percent cut, from 35 percent down to 20 percent. That was a key component that the president is very supportive of. The Senate, they're going to phase that in.

The individual rates, House only has four, Senate has seven. House's top rate is 39.6. Senate's top rate is 38.6 percent.

Across the board, there are very, very different items inside the individual proposals, proposals that at some point are going to have to be reconciled to move forward. That could be a major problem.

However, GOP leaders say don't worry about it. Take a listen to Speaker Paul Ryan.

RYAN: But the House will pass its bill. The Senate will pass its bill, and then we will get together and reconcile the differences, which is a legislative process, and that's how this process will continue.

MATTINGLY: Now, guys, just to lay out the path forward here. The House is expected to take up the bill on the House floor next week. The Senate will be marking up their bill in committee next week. The week after Thanksgiving, the Senate wants to move their bill to the Senate floor. After that, they will try to reconcile by Christmas as the president has made very clear he wants done. We'll see how they end up. We can get immediate answers as soon as next week -- Alison and Dave.


KOSIK: All right, Phil Mattingly, thanks very much.

And if you look at the Republican tax bill, it differs just enough from the House version to cause a tax policy showdown. First, some proposals are the same as the House plan, both nearly double the standard deduction, expand the child tax credit and repeal the alternative minimum tax.

But the Senate version makes some big changes to some key areas. Here's an example. It keeps seven tax brackets as you heard, instead of cutting to four and preserves the mortgage interest deduction. It also includes some alternations sure to face a backlash, like keeping the estate tax, delaying corporate tax cuts to 2019 and fully repealing the state and local tax also known as the SALT deduction.

So, that popular tax break is still a major sticking point with this legislation. GOP lawmakers from high tax states, they strongly oppose eliminating the SALT deduction. So, the House bill has made a concession, keep the deduction just for property taxes but up to $10,000, but the Senate version gets rid of the tax break entirely. And that could really wind up spelling trouble for the bill's passage.

You know, the pressure is on lawmakers. They put that timetable up, and it's just hard enough to do tax legislation but to see the clock ticking. Good luck.

BRIGGS: That one you just mentioned, that's the obstacle, right?

KOSIK: Right.

BRIGGS: Because the Senate doesn't care too much about the blue states and the high property taxes. Well, the House has to. They need the New York/California/Illinois/Connecticut contingents to get it through.

You're right. There's a lot of fighting ahead.

All right. This is still ahead as well, another bombshell report of sexual misconduct. This time against arguably the most high profile comedian in the country, Louis C.K. We'll discuss the allegations and the fallouts, next.


[04:24:27] BRIGGS: Arguably the most high profile comedian in the country, Louis C.K., now the latest across embroiled in a sex scandal. According to report in "The New York Times", comediennes Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov alleged in 2002, C.K. exposed himself to them after inviting them to hang out in his hotel room. Three other women alleged separate acts of sexual misconduct by the comedian.

The premiere for Louis C.K.'s new movie was abruptly canceled Thursday. HBO also announcing Louis C.K. will no longer participate in its charity event for autism.

[04:25:00] The network also removing his past projects from its on demand services.

KOSIK: Researchers at Boston University studying the brain of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez say he had the most severe case of the brain disease CTE ever found in an athlete so young. They say the damage was in the areas of the brain that significantly affect decision making, judgment and cognition. Hernandez was 27 when he hanged himself in a prison cell earlier this year while serving a life sentence for murder.

The research team also says Hernandez was born with a genetic marker that may have contributed to his CTE.

BRIGGS: You know, I thought was a real turning point for the future of football, that combined with legendary broadcast during of mine, Bob Costas, who said the other day, football destroys people's brains. You wonder, at what point --

KOSIK: Does that really --

BRIGGS: A tipping point, if you will, in that sport. We shall see.

All right. Ahead, Republicans facing a big problem this morning. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore accused of sexual conduct with an underage girl. She was 14 at the time. We'll have the latest on the stunning allegations, next.