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Republican Senators Comment on Accusation Against Roy Moore for Inappropriate Conduct with Young Girls; President Trump Visits Russia. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired November 10, 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] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: to the change the American election leads up to the question, is there a crime committed?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Friday, November 11th, 8:00 in the east. President Trump and Republican lawmakers are calling on Alabama's controversial GOP Senate nominee to withdraw from the race if the accusations of sexual misconduct with several teenage girls are true. Roy Moore fiercely denies "The Washington Post" report, calling it a desperate political attack, vowing to never give up the fight.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So overseas, all eyes are on President Trump at this hour. He and Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, are both attending a gala, so there are questions surrounding whether or not these two will meet. The White House says there will be nothing formal, but a brief sideline encounter is possible.
So we have all of it covered for you. Let's go first to CNN's Martin Savidge, he is live in Alabama with the Roy Moore developments. Martin?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, these allegations have sent shockwaves not just through a community, not just through a state, but through a campaign whose outcome, I guess you could say, has national consequences potentially here.
And what's disturbing is not just what's being alleged, but also the fact of who it's being alleged against and the timing. It's coming just weeks before that critical vote. It all goes back to when Roy Moore was an assistant D.A. right here.
SAVIDGE: The Trump administration responding to the bombshell allegations that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually molested a 14-year-old girl over 30 years ago, with a nod to both Moore's conservative supporters.
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.
SAVIDGE: And establishment Republicans, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
SANDERS: However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.
SAVIDGE: McConnell saying Thursday that if the allegations are true, Moore must step aside, concerns echoed by a growing list of Republicans on Capitol Hill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they're true, he should step aside.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, (R) ALABAMA: If that's true, I don't believe there would be any place for him in the U.S. Senate.
SAVIDGE: But Moore is digging in, denying the charges and blaming the, quote, "Obama-Clinton machine's liberal media lapdogs for the vicious and nasty round of attacks," and vowing to never give up the fight.
President Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, standing by Moore whom he championed during the primaries, comparing the timing of "The Washington Post" report to the release of the "Access Hollywood" tapes just before the 2016 election.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Now, is that a coincidence? That's what I mean when I say opposition party.
SAVIDGE: Leigh Corfman said she was 14 years old when she was approached by Moore outside a courtroom in 1979. He was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Corfman said he offered to stay with her while her mother went inside for a hearing. She says that Moore got her phone number and later took her to his house on two separate occasions.
BETH REINHARD, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": On one of the occasions, undressed her, undressed himself, and, you know, touched her over her bra and underwear and guided her to touch him over his underwear.
SAVIDGE: She said she was uncomfortable after that incident and asked Moore to take her home, but never reported his behavior to police.
Three other women sharing troubling stories about Moore in recent weeks, telling "The Washington Post" that Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 while he was in his 30s, but none alleged forceful sexual contact.
Moore, a devout Christian, is no stranger to controversy. Remarking just this year that he thinks that the September 11th attacks was God's punishment for Americans lack of morality, and telling a reporter in a 2005 interview that homosexuality should be illegal.
ROY MOORE, (R) ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Just because it's done behind closed doors, it can still be prohibited by state law. Do you know that bestiality, the relationship between man and beast, is prohibited in every state?
SAVIDGE: Reaction here is a mixture. There are some who just simply don't believe these allegations, but there are others who say it's not just a matter of politics, it's a matter of faith, that Roy Moore has been a man who has campaigned on his staunch conservative Christian beliefs. And if these allegations are true, that flies in the face of everything that he has stood for and maintained. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: OK, Martin, thank you very much for the story from Alabama.
Now to Washington. Republicans there are struggling to respond to the allegations against Roy Moore. Their reactions have run the gamut in Congress. CNN's Brianna Keilar is live on Capitol Hill with more. What's the latest there, Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, the timing could not be worse for Republicans because what they want to be focused on is their tax reform proposals, those coming out from both chambers yesterday.
[08:05:00] But also they're facing tremendous political headwinds. This became apparent on Tuesday night when Democrats across the country really had a sweep when it came to gubernatorial, mayoral, state legislative, and even ballot referendums. They did so well and that put Republicans on notice. Republicans feeling like they really need to deliver, and now the focus is instead on Roy Moore. It's been very awkward as they have tried to deal with this. Take a look.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator McConnell --
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KEILAR: So Republicans there in the Senate trying to ignore questions about this even though it's all but impossible. The word from Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is that if true Moore should step aside. But it's interesting to hear what his former chief of staff said, which was that this is what happens when, quote, "reckless, incompetent idiots like Steve Bannon recruit Republicans." Something like that isn't put out there with certainly some -- at least a tacit blessing from the majority leader's office.
So there's this frustration from Republicans. They didn't quite honestly like Moore, to begin with, that was clear. He wasn't the establishment pick. He was very controversial. He had been kicked off the Supreme Court in Alabama twice. That wasn't who they wanted to deal with and who they have already had misgivings about the possibility of working into their Senate Republican agenda. And then this. You also have Senator McCain, who has not included that caveat of if true. But one of the frustrating things, Chris and Alisyn, has been that Republicans here in the Senate only have so much control over this. It really comes down to what voters in Alabama want, and certainly Roy Moore has fervent supporters there.
CUOMO: Yes. We're seeing proof of that, Brianna. You have the state auditor who likened these relationships that Moore is accused of, of being like Jesus and Mary in terms of the age difference. You have the RNC committeeman from Alabama saying he would put his welfare in the hands of Vladimir Putin every time before trusting "The Washington Post." Brianna, appreciate the reporting.
So President Trump, of course, in Asia. There was this big suggested meeting between him and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. But now even though they're both going to be at this gala at the Asia- Pacific economic conference in Vietnam, it doesn't look like they're going to have a formal meeting.
This is a look live on your screen right now. We're seeing the arrival of world leaders here. Still not clear what's going to happen, if there is going to be a face-to-face, will there be a handshake, is there going to be any discussion. And obviously it matters because of such serious issues that exist between the two countries. CNN's Jeff Zeleny in Vietnam with more. It is not unusual for there to be confusion about meetings with Russian officials and U.S. officials, there are often games played, but this seemed very contrived.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A highly anticipated encounter between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin under negotiation for days is awash in confusion this morning. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders telling reporters a scheduling conflict will prevent a formal meeting, although the two leaders could still cross paths.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Are they going to say hello? Certainly possible. But in terms of a scheduled formal meeting, there's not one on the calendar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just today?
ZELENY: Yet Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a meeting would take place one way or another, adding that the White House is making conflicting statements.
The president's 13-day trip to Asia continues to be overshadowed by a series of events at home, including developments in the Russia investigation, which is growing even closer to the Oval Office. Senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, seen here with the president aboard Air Force One, has been interviewed as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe sources close to the investigation tell CNN. Miller is the highest ranking aide still working at the White House known to have spoken to investigators. His role in the firing of FBI director James Comey was among the topics discussed as part of the inquiry into possible obstruction of justice, a source told CNN. The president's long-time confidante who delivered the letter of
Comey's dismissal to FBI headquarters, Keith Schiller, also wrapped up in the investigation. Schiller testified behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee this week that he rejected a Russian offer to send five women to Trump's hotel room during his 2013 visit to Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant. Schiller told House members he took the offer as a joke sources told CNN, and Mr. Trump, then a private citizen, laughed it off.
The president remaining focused on a series of priorities here, amplifying his call to confront North Korea's nuclear ambitions and again pledging that his administration would do what his predecessors did not and close the trade imbalance with countries like China.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.
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[08:10:08] CAMEROTA: OK, our thanks to Jeff Zeleny.
So let's bring in CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston. Mark, I'm choking on all the news we have today. Thank you. There's so much. OK, so let's just start in Alabama with the bombshell accusations against Judge Roy Moore, who is running of course for U.S. Senate. He seems dug in. He's not budging in terms of saying this was a long time ago or anything. I mean, he's saying this is good against evil, that these people are lying, they're sinners, and he's going full fire and brimstone. How do you see what's happening?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: A couple of things. One is, this is a very, very complicated story in the sense that you are correct that he has dug in, and based upon his history on a lot of the controversial things that he said, his removal from the Alabama Supreme Court not once, but twice, it doesn't seem like Roy Moore is going to go away.
I know there's been a lot of criticism of Mitch McConnell not trying to cut Roy Moore off more quickly, but I have to say yesterday when the news broke, and I was in the middle of it yesterday afternoon when we saw "The Washington Post" really break this bombshell, as you said, a thoroughly reported story, Mitch McConnell immediately said if this is true, then he needs to step aside.
I do suspect that, as we see, you know, the next day or two or three continue on that you will see some stronger statements out of Senate Republicans and other Republican leaders nationally because the fact of the matter is this story from "The Washington Post," as you said, is extremely damning. And we should note these folks are on the record. They have put their face out there, their name out there with these accusations.
CAMEROTA: Yes. They are not unnamed sources.
PRESTON: Right. CAMEROTA: That is a very good point.
CUOMO: Not unnamed sources, they were contacted by the paper. They didn't come forward on their own. I don't mean that as a judgment, I'm just saying procedurally in terms of how this developed. They were Trump voters, so it's not like they're Democratic shills. They have 30 corroborating sources, and yet pretty much uniformly I think except for McCain, from GOP lawmakers we've heard if the allegations are true. An allegation is a suggestion without proof. These are accusations from people who say it happened. That's different than an empty allegation. And yet they're all saying that. Why isn't that all the political cover that this man needs?
PRESTON: Well, it certainly was -- look, I think Republicans were put in a terrible spot yesterday when this story broke because, look, in this country you are innocent until proven guilty, right?
CUOMO: In a trial. In a trial you are innocent until proven guilty.
PRESTON: But we're talking about the court of public opinion right now --
PRESTON: -- which is also -- which is more damning in many ways than it is when you go to court.
CUOMO: It works both ways, Mark. These women can't prove it happened, unless they have a photo of it happening. The best you can do is take their word and try to corroborate it with as many different sources as possible. You're not going to have forensic evidence.
PRESTON: No question about that. And this is what makes it so difficult. And Alisyn, as you did in your town hall last night, a very interesting, a very informative, a very smartly, well done town hall, is when you talk about the situation and how they unfold, people look like they're defending those who have done these acts against women or men or what it has been, when in fact what you're saying is stop for a second, let's just wait and see what happens.
Now, Mitch McConnell put that statement out extremely quickly yesterday. I would bet, and as I said at the beginning, that within the next couple of days you will see stronger statements come out for Roy Moore to leave the race. Now, he's not going to leave the race, and that really is going to hurt Republicans not only in this Alabama Senate race, which will likely now go to the Democrats, but it could hurt them nationally heading into 2018.
CAMEROTA: Mark, we did hear last night from Steve Bannon. So he was at a fundraiser or a speech of some kind in New Hampshire. You know, he just hit all of sort of the usual boogieman. He went after the democratic apparatus, blaming them for what is going on with Roy Moore. He went after Jeff Bezos of Amazon. Let me play a little bit of this for you.
(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.
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[08:15:00] CUOMO: It was the candidate's words at the time saying things that, you know, now culturally I think would be called out differently than they were at the time. But what is Bannon's point here other than I guess that women who make accusations aren't part of his populism?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, when you drop a dime on somebody, that means you're dropping truthful information.
CUOMO: That's right.
PRESTON: And telling on them, right?
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That's a good point.
PRESTON: So I don't know. Perhaps Steve Bannon didn't want to say it that way. But I would tell you, if I had been at that speech last night, had I been a Republican, you wonder why people sat there and listened to that when he said that, because you are now complicit in Steve Bannon's comments last night. And just comparing what Bannon said to what Mitch McConnell said is Bannon saying that Roy Moore is innocent no matter what, OK?
You talked earlier in the show about how some Republicans in Alabama said it was OK what had happened. I think it was, you know, the state auditor who had said some outrageous and filthy comments about accepting of this. At the same time you saw Mitch McConnell say if guilty, he needs to step aside.
Now I do understand people will be upset at Mitch McConnell, I'm not defending him. I'm just trying to show the difference here that Steve Bannon is not talking about let's try to find the truth. Steve Bannon is talking about give me all the gas so I can burn down Washington.
CUOMO: And, Mark, as you're speaking, we're showing the president's arrival at the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference here. He's greeting the hosts right now in Vietnam. Obviously these political questions overshadowing his trip somewhat. I mean, a lot of big issues there that we've been reporting on as well. The president through the White House has said kind of a mixed message, that if these allegations are true, that Moore should step down, but they gave enough qualifying on that statement to give Moore some political cover at least for now.
PRESTON: Well, at least in the short term, but I do think that Donald Trump will ultimately cut Roy Moore loose because as we all know that Donald Trump really only focuses in on himself. You know, he's such a narcissist in that way. But I don't think that he has any loyalty. We saw that he did not support Roy Moore during the primary against Luther Strange, he supported Luther Strange, so I don't think you're going to see much more out of the White House except perhaps a flippant comment from Donald Trump saying that he needs to walk.
CUOMO: All right. Mark, appreciate it, bud. Always good to have you on the show.
CAMEROTA: Thanks, Mark.
PRESTON: Thanks, guys.
CUOMO: All right. So we've been talking about how Republican lawmakers are responding to the Roy Moore scandal. We're going to talk with a GOP congressman about his take. Should Moore step aside?
And you know why we're showing you the special counsel? This is the congressman that started a movement to have Mueller step aside. Why would he do that to this lifetime Republican? Next.
[08:21:32] CUOMO: Some Republican lawmakers are calling on controversial Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to step aside if what we're learning about accusations of sexual misconduct with teenagers are true. The candidate calls "The Washington Post" report a political smear and vows that he will fight on.
Let's bring in Republican Congressman Matt Gates from Florida. He's on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees.
Good to have you, sir.
REP. MATT GATES (R), FLORIDA: Good to be on, Chris. And Happy Veterans Day and Veterans Day weekend to all of our veterans and military families.
CUOMO: Yes, tomorrow a very important day. We had the VA secretary on, Shulkin, to talk about efforts like the #bethere campaign to help with suicidal ideation. Very important people should remember the sacrifice of our service members so thank you for being with us and making that known.
What is your take on the accusations against the nominee in Alabama Roy Moore? Do you think he should step down?
GATES: Well, I agree with my colleague, Mark Meadows, who said that if these allegations are true, Roy Moore has no place in the Senate and no place in the Republican Party.
I do think the timing is a bit curious. Roy Moore has run statewide three times, he's won twice. And Lord knows Mitch McConnell put millions of dollars into opposition research against Roy Moore and we're just learning these things now. And potentially the Democrats have a great deal to gain, but I absolutely agree that if the allegations are true, they are hideous, they are disgusting, and Roy Moore should step aside and frankly shouldn't be free walking among us.
CUOMO: All right. Well, you know, legal implications, you know, that gets very tricky under Alabama state law, what age it was, what the statute of limitations, but let's take it step by step with what you said. Allegations are suggestions without proof, right? These are accusations from four named women, Trump voters, by the way, to the extent that that's relevant because of the politicization of this. And 30 corroborated sources. So they're not just allegations, they're accusations.
Does that change your reckoning?
GATES: Well, when you've got the weight of evidence that you're starting to see build, I think it's very important to take the time to evaluate the veracity, to evaluate the credibility and certainly as more and more information comes out, it's more and more troubling, Chris.
CUOMO: But it's going to be hard to do that, right, certainly before the election. And then once the election happens, if the judge wins, really hard to remove him from the Senate. Puts you in a little bit of a political pickle, does it not?
GATES: Well, I believe the Senate has the authority to define its own membership, and so it could potentially expel Judge Moore if it was to be found that he in fact did these things. Again, if we find out that these things actually happened, he absolutely has no place in the Senate or our party and I think we're going to be learning more. We may learn more about the credibility of these folks, we may learn more about their stories, their details. And it's just very sad when you see this enter the political sphere.
You and your guests were discussing earlier that this is not a court of law, where there really is a presumption of innocence. This is the court of public opinion, it's politics, and there are different rules.
CUOMO: You know, the timing you brought up also, it's not unusual for bombshells to come out as you near election day. Reporting takes time, pressure builds, relevance builds. They had 30 corroborating sources here. That doesn't happen overnight. Why the suspicion?
GATES: Well, Roy Moore has faced other election days, Chris. You're absolutely right that when an election comes around, you typically see these allegations come out, but Roy Moore just had a pretty significant election against Luther Strange.
[08:25:07] We didn't learn these things then. We also didn't learn them in any of the other three statewide campaigns that Judge Moore was involved in and so I think that we've got to just take that into account for context. That doesn't mean we shouldn't believe these women, it doesn't mean they're not telling the truth, it doesn't mean Judge Moore didn't commit the offenses that he's accused of, it's just important for context and evaluating things.
CUOMO: Women don't want to come forward either and one of the reasons they don't want to come forward is because their veracity is questioned when they do.
Now do false accusations exist? Yes, but they are very, very rare. If you look at it statistically, it is highly unlikely.
GATES: Well, Chris, we can't live in a world where the accusation is the conviction, though. Right? Like you would agree. Look, your brother was an attorney general. An accusation cannot itself be a conviction.
CUOMO: Absolutely. Certainly.
GATES: But you're right, the weight of evidence here is deeply troubling.
CUOMO: Certainly. But you also have to measure how the judge responds to it and what it means. These are difficult questions that you guys will have to deal with and you'll be judged at the polls.
Now interestingly, you do feel more strongly by a different set of allegations, suggestions without real proof, which is that you started a petition to get rid of the special counsel because of your feelings about him when he was FBI director. I know you want to talk to that. Why would you do such a thing to the special counsel who was so applauded as a choice by members of your party?
GATES: Well, we're learning more and more about Bob Mueller and his conflicts of interest. And these aren't feelings of mine, they're facts, Chris. As early as 2009, the FBI knew that we had a Russian informant with information that Russia was trying to use bribes and kickbacks and extortion to try to undermine the United States' uranium assets.
And you can't talk about the 2016 election without talking about the Clinton Foundation and now we're learning more and more that you can't talk about the Clinton Foundation without looking at the Uranium One deal. Because Bob Mueller was the head of the FBI in 2009 when these allegations, accusations, information was coming forward, I think that either by negligence or by malfeasance this information didn't come forward to the Congress.
It's also noteworthy that Rod Rosenstein was a U.S. attorney and it was his signature block that ultimately was on the pleadings that sealed the information from this confidential informant, which meant that in 2009 and 2010, the Congress wasn't learning about these efforts by the Russians to undermine our uranium assets, to bribe officials. And I don't think it's a coincidence that at that same time you have the Clinton Foundation taking millions of dollars from the Russians and Bill Clinton getting paid half a million dollars for a speech.
CUOMO: But these are all circumstances that you want to discuss and I get their political interest. But Rosenstein was appointed by this administration. The special counsel is a lifelong Republican, a man of untarnished record. It seems like you're just trying to push something that would be a little politically expedient to the president, which is get rid of the man who is investigating his campaign.
GATES: Well, first of all, there are many men and women investigating the president and also investigating the ties from Russia to the 2016 election. I think we've got three investigations going on in the Congress right now, so it's not as if --
CUOMO: But they don't carry criminal purview. They're very different.
CUOMO: They're very different. And you say it's a conflict of interest. You'd had to have truth.
GATES: Then I have no objection to a special counsel investigating --
CUOMO: What's the proof of a conflict?
GATES: But, Chris, we -- the reason we don't have the proof is because Rod Rosenstein was working to seal the information. And look, I get that these people are Republicans, but even Republicans can be subject to conflicts of interest.
The federal code says that even the appearance of a conflict of interest means that you can't be involved in investigations. And so, look, the fact that you've got Mueller and Rosenstein investigating the very facts that they themselves were involved in when Mueller was at the FBI and when Rosenstein was a U.S. attorney --
CUOMO: But they're not investigating the Uranium One deal.
GATES: De facto disqualifying.
CUOMO: They're not investigating the Uranium One.
GATES: But the Uranium One deal is tied to the Clinton foundation which is tied to the 2016 election and the uranium one deal goes precisely to the very reason why the Russians were trying to influence the 2016 election. They weren't trying to influence the election as an end unto itself, they wanted to influence the election so that they could obtain strategic outcomes. And there is a witness that was silenced by these very people investigating the president --
CUOMO: The Intelligence Committee report --
GATES: -- who's saying that the tools that they were using were the tools that we now know are bribery and extortion.
CUOMO: But this is all raw speculation. The Intelligence committee report on Russian interference doesn't mention the uranium one deal as an incentive on any level. It doesn't even make sense logically, Congressman. What they wanted to do was interfere with the process. What they wanted to be is create some chaos in our democracy, and they wound up achieving their ends all too well, which is why you guys have to investigate it and figure out how to stop it. But it seems like -- GATES: But those things are usually exclusive. The Russians can want
to create chaos in the process but they can also want to undermine our uranium assets.