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Michael Flynn Offered Money to Deliver Cleric to Turkey; Steve Bannon Slams Media for Story on Roy Moore; Interview with David Shulkin; Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 10, 2017 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Having Mike Flynn not just in September, before the election, but in December after the election, after being named as the National Security adviser, meeting, the suggestion is, according to the "Wall Street Journal," for a potential fee to remove a cleric that is a legal resident of the United States back to Turkey. What is your read on that?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: This looks like a mirror of what we saw a couple of weeks ago again in the initial indictments when one of the indictments relates to relationship with a foreign power. This is Paul Manafort and non-declaration of money, that is non-declaration of income overseas and the tax implications of that in the United States. I suspect --

CUOMO: This is a lot more than that.

MUDD: Yes, but I --

CUOMO: This has been working with a foreign actor to remove a legal resident from the United States while an officer of the state.

MUDD: That's right. I think there are a couple of issues at play here. Number one, you've got to look at the financial relationship that he has, that General Flynn has overseas. And the second is, you're suggesting it's even more serious, whether there is a conversation about U.S. policy that stemmed from a financial relationship that General Flynn has overseas.

I think what you're finding, Chris, here is the reason this investigation is taking so long. We're seeing this snapshot of something General Flynn did. We're seeing something that happened in Moscow four years ago. We saw earlier this year the fact that Donald Trump Jr. wasn't entirely trustworthy about his conversations with the Russian lawyer.

We are seeing 1 percent of an investigation that spans years. And that's why this is taking so long, piecing all this together.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Phil Mudd, Karoun Demerjian, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, Steve Bannon comparing the Roy Moore sex accusations to coverage of President Trump's "Access Hollywood" tape. OK. So what's his point? He says the media is behind all this. That's next.


[06:36:03] CUOMO: All right. We're seeing a battle between political value and morality play out in real time. President Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon is claiming that the media is targeting Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore amid accusations of sexual assault and misconduct.

Bannon is drawing comparisons to coverage of President Trump's "Access Hollywood" tape to make his case. Take a listen.


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.


CUOMO: So you bring out the president or then candidate's own words and ask him to account for them, and that's being oppositional? If so, good.

Let's bring in CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter and CNN political commentator Alice Stewart.

One of the first assertions, Brian, that's being made here is timing. It is anything but unusual for heavy hitting to come the closer you are to an election. The intensity turns up. The efforts turn up. This is routine. To make it suspicious is just misleading.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Some of these right- wing media defenders, I don't know how they can possibly sleep at night. And I wonder if they're going to look back years from now and regret some of the things they're saying.

CAMEROTA: But you know --

STELTER: Some of the reactions to this story.

CAMEROTA: Let's play that because some of the things they're saying is we don't know all the details yet. That's true. Some of the details -- the narrative that they keep repeating is you've got to look at the timing, you've got to look at the timing. So listen to this last night on FOX News.


GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: -- girl, we have a tendency to believe what we want to believe and disbelieve what we don't want to believe. The classic example is of course Bill Clinton and the Oval Office. We didn't believe Paula Jones and all the rest.

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: The one serious allegation is that a woman -- or at the time she was 14 years old who claims, you know, actual molestation. But -- until now, I'd like to see what his response is. But you can't help thinking about the timing.


CAMEROTA: What do you hear?

STELTER: I mean, Ann Coulter should read the full story on Read it a second time and then come on television and talk about it because these commentators, the Steve Bannons, the Sean Hannitys, they'd rather talk about the media than the alleged molestation. That's a much more convenient topic for them. And I think everybody sees through it.

You know, they talk about the press, blaming the "Washington Post." The reality is, as you were saying, Chris, you know, as reporters, look into all Senate candidates as the race -- you know, as election day nears, this is what happens. You know, the "Washington Post" reporters were not out looking for this information. They were actually out profiling Roy Moore talking with voters when they started to hearing about these rumors.

These rumors have existed in Alabama political circles for years. The "Washington Post" stumbled upon it, didn't seek it out. And eventually was able to convince these reluctant sources to speak on the record.

CUOMO: Thirty of them, by the way. Thirty sources were cited in their reporting.

STELTER: Right. Four women and then corroboration of these women's accounts and then other sources on top of that.


CAMEROTA: Check the schedule.

CUOMO: That's why the if true thing bothers me because --

STELTER: How much more do you need?

CUOMO: Right. An allegation is a suggestion without proof. That's what that word means in the law. Their word, their accusation is proof, right? I mean, that -- it's being ignored.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, it's not proof, right? I mean --

CUOMO: Sure. If a woman comes forward and said this happened.

CAMEROTA: This is evidence.

CUOMO: Yes. Someone coming forward with testimony is evidence. You could have other evidence.


CUOMO: You could vet them, you can impeach their character. You can do other things in terms of legal process. But if you come forward and say this person did this to me, that counts.

[06:40:02] CAMEROTA: So, Alice, I know that you spoke with Roy Moore's campaign spokesperson. What's their attitude towards all this?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They are being very sensitive to the women out there. But they were quite stunned and shocked by the allegations. They say they are not true. They say they're going to fight them vigorously. They have sent a strongly worded letter to the "Washington Post" outlining the inaccuracies throughout the piece and saying that they were defaming Judge Moore and they are going to fight this vigorously.

He said this didn't happen. And they plan to continue to stay in the race, fight this vigorously. What they are going to do is they are highlighting the fact that, yes, this is a November surprise. Their attitude and their fight back is to say this is more of the Clinton- Obama machine. This is fake news. This is the media attacking a Christian conservative candidate. And he is not going down without a fight.

Let me just say this with regard to the comparison to President Trump and the "Access Hollywood" tape. Like that was different in that we heard with our own ears the disgusting words out of President Trump's mouth. And it is unequivocal that that was inappropriate and uncalled for.

And while what we're -- the allegations in this case are very disturbing, this is nearly 40 years ago, we don't know with absolute certainty that they did happen. The judge denies them, said it didn't happen. So until we get to the bottom of this, until he either comes out and says, yes, this is true or we have some kind of proof that these are true, I think it's important for us to give him the benefit of the doubt. Let him stay in the race, let it fight, and let it be up to the people of Alabama. Let them decide if they want him to be their senator.

STELTER: I think that's the point of the reporting. Right? The "Washington Post" wants people to know these allegations, wants these women to be able to have a voice. And then the voters to decide.

CAMEROTA: But, Alice, were you saying that it was your sense that the campaign was trying to be sensitive to the accusers?

STEWART: Sure. And they understand --

CAMEROTA: And how?

STEWART: They understand the sensitive nature of what they're coming forward with. So they are being careful with regard to how they do respond to this and making sure at the same time that Judge Moore is treated fairly in this race.

Look, my first job in television news was in Dothan, Alabama, in South Alabama. And I can tell you that people down there, they get their news from local news sources. They are not going to base their decision on the leader in the Senate for their state based on some national news stories.

CUOMO: So, Alice, the Democratic candidate has a story come out today that we found a 14-year-old young woman at the time, now much older, OK. So the candidate was much younger just like in the Roy Moore story.

And she said well, now that you got me and told this story, would you feel the same way about it, that, boy, you know, this Democratic candidate, he needs -- let's give him every benefit of the doubt and let's see if there is any other proof other than this woman reluctantly coming forward and saying when I was 14 he touched me here, he touched me there, and I asked him to take me home, I was very uncomfortable, I wanted it to end. Would you be so open minded?

STEWART: I'm taking politics out of this. I --

CUOMO: I don't know how you can because every comment that's made by people on the right is defending and putting in context the political utility. The well, let's see if it's true. Well, boy, the timing is suspicious. These are not things that you say when you're being sensitive to the women in the case. They just are not.

STEWART: Look, I'm taking politics out of it. It doesn't matter to me if he's Republican, Democrat, or independent. These are fresh allegations, fresh charges, and here's a man who has run for office four times. He's been in the national spotlight for decades. And now all of a sudden these charges come to life.

CUOMO: Those women don't want to talk about this because it's scary to say things like these.


STELTER: He's up for a bigger job now.

CUOMO: Because he's a judge and you get condemned. Just like Alisyn had all these women talking about on the town hall last night and we're seeing play out in real time, that it's been seen as a media trick, and that, you know, we have to vet the claims. You can't just believe the woman.

CAMEROTA: And Roy Moore himself, I mean, he tweeted this, "The forces of evil will lie, cheat, and steal, even inflict physical harm if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me."

I mean, that doesn't sound like sensitivity to the accusers.

STEWART: That kind of language certainly is not sensitive to the women who put their stories out there. But I can tell you, based on what they have told me, they're going to push back. They're going to stand firm on these -- against these charges and make sure that people understand that he says he's innocent and he wants to continue --

CUOMO: That's true. And that's his right to do. And he's also --

STELTER: President Trump, by not backing down when the tape came out, it benefited President Trump. Right? Some of the liberal Hollywood celebrities have apologized for various wrongdoing. It has sunk their careers. I think Roy Moore is looking at that and noticing that. But to call this fake news, for goodness sakes, he married a much younger woman. There is a lot in this story. It is a very detailed story. And I just -- I hope that people that are trying to rip this story apart actually read it first.

[06:45:01] CUOMO: Imagine if you flip the parties. If you flip the parties and the defenders, then what does it look like?

But, Alice, I appreciate you speaking to it. It's important to have your voice here this morning.

STEWART: All right. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Brian, thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: So an arctic blast is ushering in the first taste of winter here in the northeast. How long will it last? I'm guessing winter.

Allison Chinchar, let's bring in Allison --


CAMEROTA: Millions of people in the northeast waking up to bitter cold temperatures. Some could even see snow ahead of Thanksgiving.

CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar has our forecast. What do you see, Allison?


CUOMO: All right, Allison. Appreciate it.

So we are on the eve of Veterans Day. So it is always important, but especially now, to remember America's military members for their service to this country. They are the ones securing our rights against enemies abroad.

We have the VA Secretary David Shulkin joining us next.


[06:51:50] CUOMO: Tomorrow is Veterans Day and lately we've been talking a great deal about American service members but not for good reason. The Texas church killer was discharged from the Air Force for bad

conduct. And an investigation is under way into the deaths of four soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger.

Joining us now is the Veterans Affairs secretary, Dr. David Shulkin.

How are you doing, sir?

DR. DAVID SHULKIN, VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: Hey, good morning, Chris. How are you?

CUOMO: Let's just start with general. How do you think you're doing? There's been so much attention on the VA and getting services up to par, and helping our troops more when they come back home, whether they need certain health care or other services. How do you think you're doing in making that situation better?

SHULKIN: Chris, I stepped into this job knowing that there was a lot of work to do. That we are dealing with a system that has had decades of issues spanning multiple administrations. So this is not a political issue. But what we're doing is we're tackling those issues and we're transforming the system to be a modern system that responds to the needs of the veterans.

And I think we're on our way. And thankfully we are doing it in a bipartisan way so we're getting work done here in Washington.

CUOMO: Right. And, you know, we'll stay on you about it because they deserve our help. Everybody says they support the troops. But as you well know the commitment doesn't always follow through the way it should. So let's talk about some of the things in the news here.


CUOMO: What happened with this shooter in Texas. He was dismissed from the military for bad conduct. But it wasn't a dishonorable discharge. He retained rank. He was demoted but he retained rank. And it seems as though they did not report his domestic violence and they did not report that he was put into an institution for his mental health, allegedly escaped. And that was all not in the records and the investigations of the military show that there is reporting of relatively few of these types of incidents.

What does it mean to you? It certainly mattered in his ability to get a gun in this case, but what's your concern?

SHULKIN: There's no question that we need to do much better when it comes to reporting. We're dealing with the public safety not only of our fellow troops but also of citizens as we can see. The VA of course does carefully track the discharge status of all transitioning service members. And as you know, with the bad conduct disorder, he would not be taken care of by the VA. And --

CUOMO: So not just dishonorable but even the next level down of bad conduct also would exempt him from care?

SHULKIN: Yes, that's correct.

CUOMO: But the military did put him into the facility he escaped from, right?

SHULKIN: Yes, that's true.

CUOMO: So how do you reconcile those two? He's not subject to care but he was put into care by the military?

SHULKIN: Well, there are systems of care. And as a physician of course I believe everybody deserves to get access of care.

CUOMO: And you extended to those that weren't even immediately eligible. You extended the eligibility during your tenure.

SHULKIN: Yes. Chris, it's very confusing if you're not from the military culture. There are many levels of discharge. But about 85 percent of active service members will leave with an honorable discharge.

[06:55:05] But about 15 percent will either have what's called other than honorable, which is not a conviction of a crime the way that this gentleman had a crime. But it really is a behavioral issue. And many of those issues are related to conditions that servicemen and women had during conflict like post-traumatic stress. So we have extended emergency mental health services for those with other than honorable.

But for bad conduct or dishonorable discharge, which are really much more serious offenses, we do not provide services for them.

CUOMO: Whatever it is, it is the policy and it's somewhat of a separate question to the reporting.


CUOMO: It is a report arguably two things that they should have and as a result you had a man get lots of weapons, that he should never have gotten and we saw what the results were. So we're looking forward, we know the initial investigations coming through from the Defense Department next week. There'll be deeper investigation. We'll stay on it.

Let's talk about what specifically you have to handle, though, which is the efforts when it comes to suicide. This is now also a very tricky issue. Suicide is a real problem. And it is on the rise within the military certainly in terms of its urgency. There are statistics out there that you have one every 20 minutes. You know, that there is suicidal ideation.

We know that with gun crime, about two-thirds of the gun-related deaths in this country are suicide related. So what do you want to do about it?

SHULKIN: Well, we're focusing on this because 20 suicides a day is just an unacceptable figure. Right now we have a national public service announcement that's going out asking for everybody's help. Tom Hanks narrates this and it's #bethere because we believe that this has to be solved not only by the Department of Veteran Affairs but by the community working together to find veterans who are in need and making sure they have access to services.

CUOMO: And Secretary, what is the statistic about how much suicide there is?

SHULKIN: Well, it's 20 veterans a day which is if you think about that it's just thousands of men and women taking their lives every day. What most people don't realize is, is that while there has been an increase in suicides in younger veterans coming back from recent conflicts, the biggest numbers are actually in older veterans and particularly in our Vietnam veteran population.

CUOMO: So what is the "Be There" campaign? Tell us about it quickly especially as we're coming into Veterans Day.

SHULKIN: The "Be There" campaign recognizes that most veterans who are taking their life are not getting their care in the VA that when you do get care in the VA that your rate of suicide is actually much lower. So we're reaching out to all organizations, to communities, to churches and asking people to be able to recognize when people may need help and connecting them with help in the right resources because we don't believe any veteran should be left alone to suffer the way that they are.

CUOMO: Secretary, as we've said before, you are always welcome here to talk about what matters to veterans and their care. Thank you for being with us.

SHULKIN: And happy Veterans Day to all of our veterans and their families out there.

CUOMO: Indeed. Thank you for their service.

SHULKIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Be well, sir. Alisyn.

SHULKIN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, up next, accusations of sexual misconduct against Judge Roy Moore, the Republican nominee in Alabama's U.S. Senate race. Who is standing by him and who's not? That's next.