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Roy Moore Rejects Calls To Leave Senate Race, Denies Report Of Sexual Encounter With Teen; Flynn Attorney's Allegations Ranging From Kindnapping To Bribery "Are Outrageous And Prejudicial, They Are False."; North Korea Feels Sanctions Biting as Trump Asks For More. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 10, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:09] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now. Breaking news. Politically motivated. Sexual misconduct allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore rock the Republican Party. But Moore calls them politically motivated, denying that he once abused a 14-year-old girl.
Proposed abduction? A bombshell allegation that former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn was offered $15 million to abduct a Muslim cleric living in the United States and turn him over to Turkey. What's the special counsel learning?
Pivotal handshake. As investigators probe his campaign's Russia connections, President Trump shakes hands with Russia's Vladimir Putin at an economic summit. Will they sit down and talk?
And clamping down. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson says sanctions are working against North Korea, but President Trump is calling for more and slamming what he calls Kim Jong-Un's twisted fantasies of nuclear blackmail. How will North Korea's leader respond?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in the SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news. Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore says the allegations of sexual misconduct against him are completely false and politically motivated. A stunning "Washington Post" report based on dozens of interviews says Moore pursued several relationships with teens when he was in his early 30s. The most disturbing account is from a woman who says Moore began a sexual encounter when she was only 14. Republican lawmakers say if the allegations are true, Moore must step aside and the GOP Senate campaign arm has now cut ties with Moore.
And there is a stunning new twist in the special counsel's investigation of key Trump associates. Former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn and his son were allegedly offered up to $15 million to forcibly remove from the United States a Muslim cleric wanted by Turkey. That's from "the Wall Street Journal," which adds the FBI questioned at least four people about an alleged December meeting between Flynn and Turkish representatives. They were said to have discussed how to transport the Muslim leader on a private jet to a Turkish prison island. That was during the transition while Flynn was advising President-elect Trump and before his very brief tenure as the White House national security adviser.
As the Russia investigation looks at his inner circle, President Trump is attending the Asia-Pacific summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two shook hands. They spoke briefly during a photo-op. The White House says there won't be a formal meeting, although Russian officials won't rule that out.
I will speak with Democratic congressman Ruben Gallego of the armed services committee. And our correspondent specialists and guests, they are standing by with more coverage.
Republican candidate Roy Moore of Alabama is under growing pressure to quit his Senate race after allegations about past sexual abuse of an underage girl. The Senate GOP campaign arm has dropped a fund-raising deal with Moore, but he's digging in his heels.
CNN's Martin Savidge is joining us live from Alabama.
Martin, Roy Moore just spoke out. Tell our viewers what he said.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He has been speaking out in very strong defense. Anybody who knows Roy Moore that for 40 years he has been a man with no stranger to controversy. For the one that has erupted in the last 24 hours, the accusations that have been made are perhaps the greatest he has faced in his political life. And it comes just as he appeared he was on the verge of winning a U.S. seat representing Alabama.
The most serious allegation, as you point out, comes from a woman who says when she was 14 in 1979 that a then 32-year-old Moore made advanced to her, including what she described as a sexual assault. Late this afternoon, Moore went on conservative talk radio to deny completely the allegations that have been made against him. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: These allegations are completely false and misleading. But more than that, it hurts me personally because, you know, I'm a father. I have one daughter. I have five granddaughters and I have a special concern for the protection of young ladies. This is really hard to get on radio and explain this. These allegations are just completely false.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make specifically, let's start with what they talked about, you had struck up a conversation with this young woman who was 14, Leigh Corfman, and the mother says that you offered to watch the girl while the mother went inside for a custody hearing and they actually confirmed it happened, at that time. Do you know Mr. Corfman? Do you know the mother?
MOORE: I don't know Ms. Corfman from anybody. I have never talked to her. Never had any contact with her. The allegation of sexual misconduct with her are completely false. I believe they are politically motivated. I believe they are only to stop a very successful campaign, and that's what they are doing. I've never known this woman or anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:05:23] SAVIDGE: Roy Moore started off this interview as being very emphatic and sounding very confident in his denial, but as it went on and as the questions just came more and more frequently from the host, then his memory began to fade, his answers began to wander all over the place and he sounded less and less sure of what he was saying. As far as the impact on voters, it's still too early to judge right now, Wolf.
BLITZER: You had a chance to speak with Moore's brother today, Martin. What did he say?
SAVIDGE: Well, Jerry Moore, who is the younger brother was emphatic, again, saying that these allegations that had been brought against his brother are absolutely false. And he went so far as to accused the women who have come forward making the accusations as receiving some kind of money or that they are in sympathies with the Democratic opponent. We should point out that the most serious accuser here has maintained that she voted Republican in the last three Presidential elections. So politics does not appear to be the motive and there has been nothing to suggest any kind of money here.
Also, Jerry Moore went on to say that the problems politically that his brother is facing now are the same as the persecution of Jesus Christ. Faith is very important in both their lives, Wolf.
BLITZER: Martin Savidge in Alabama for us. We are going to have more on this story coming up.
But I want to get to the latest bombshell allegation linked to the special counsel's investigation. Our senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski is here.
Michelle, what are you learning?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, this gets murkier and it's not just Russia. Now special prosecutor Robert Mueller is probing allegations that former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son were involved in an alleged plan with Turkey to remove a cleric forcibly from the United States and outside the U.S. legal system in exchange for millions of dollars.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): After Michael Flynn had been named national security adviser, weeks before the inauguration, "the Wall Street Journal" now reports he met with representatives of Turkey at New York's 21 club. Flynn and his son were allegedly offered as much as $15 million to forcibly get a Turkish cleric named Fethullah Gulen out of the United States. The Turkish government blames Gulen for the coup there last year. And he has been fixated on pressuring the U.S. to extract her which so far hasn't worked.
This plan, according to "the Journal's" report, was to remove Gulen who has been living on a green card in Pennsylvania and denies involvement in the coup, get him on a private plane and send him to a Turkish prison island.
JAMES GRIMALDI, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: There would actually be cash payments involved with his removal, with someone who at the time was working for the transition, had been nominated, then became the national security adviser. Before he was then fired by the President. So, yes, it's a pretty remarkable allegation that's being investigated by the FBI. Being investigated rather seriously.
KOSINSKI: Flynn's attorney did not respond to requests for comment. A lawyer for Michael Flynn Jr. Declined to comment. It's unclear if any agreement was reached on the plan or any money changed hands, but former CIA director James Woolsey had previously told CNN about another meeting with Turks that he heard part of a month earlier in September 2016, again, to discuss how to remove Gulen outside the U.S. legal system. A conversation he called deeply concerning.
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: But it looks as if there was at least some strong suggestion by the -- one or more of the Americans present at the meeting to the Turks that we would be able, the United States would be able through them to get ahold of Gulen.
KOSINSKI: At the time, Flynn's spokesman vehemently denied that any such discussion had happened. Flynn and son are also under investigation for not disclosing lobbying work they did for Turkey during the campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Election Day. I'm excited.
KOSINSKI: On Election Day, Flynn Sr. wrote an op-ed in the Hill, making a case for extraditing for Gulen, calling him shady. The forces of radical Islam derived their ideology from radical clerics like Gulen who is running a scam.
KOSINSKI: So the allegations right now are discussions, at least two of them. But involvement in a plan like this could according to experts could constitute a serious crime for a number of reasons. So obviously a good question would be who else might have known about these discussions or been involved with them?
And Wolf, recently CNN's Fareed Zakaria sat down with the Turkish prime minister who denied that Flynn made any kind of assurances on this matter. In fact, he denied that they were even working with Flynn on this.
[17:10:04] BLITZER: Yes. Still many, many disturbing elements in this story. We are going to stay on top of it.
Michelle, thank you very much. Michelle Kosinski reporting. Joining us now, Democratic congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. He
is a member of the arm services committee. He is an Iraq combat veteran.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: Thank you. Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans out there.
BLITZER: Happy Veterans Day to you and all the veterans out there as well, including you.
I want to ask you about Robert Mueller's investigation into this alleged plot, this alleged plan from Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son Michael Flynn Jr. to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric from the United States back to Turkey. You just heard Michelle's report.
But before then, I want to ask you to react to these allegations against this Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Do you think your Republican colleagues, and Moore's a Republican, are doing enough to distance themselves from Moore?
GALLEGO: I think they barely started. I have been, you know, impressed by some very strong actions, specifically from Senator Flake here in Arizona. But they need to do more. They need to demand that all the money they have put into his election be returned. I know they've already cut down the joint committee they were working on together, but actually they should just retract as much money from this campaign because essentially at this point they are helping a pedophile run for office. And I don't think the Republican Party wants to be associated with somebody like that.
At the same time, we have the alt-rights and the Steve Bannons and the Sean Hannitys of the world that are just going to make excuses for somebody like this, which, you know, is in my opinion a portion and an arm of the Republican Party. And they need to actually start taking some ownership and start realizing that they are supporting somebody who at some point was being a predator with underage women. And it's just disgusting the lengths and excuses that Roy Moore is going through right now to justify the fact when he was in his mid-30s he was "dating," quote-unquote. And I don't think you can date people that can't give you consent, women below the age of 18. And even if you don't take -- even if you believe that he did not have a relationship with that young woman, the 14-year-old, he does admit he did with 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds. And that's just disgusting. I mean, you know, that is predatory in nature and it is, you know, in any other case if this were a private citizen, we would be calling them a pedophile.
BLITZER: Why do you say he admits to having relationships with 16, 17, 18-year-old girls? He clearly flatly denies he had any relationship when he was 32 with a 14-year-old.
GALLEGO: This is just from what I have been catching up and reading that he has confirmed that he may have dated women blow the age of 18 which in my mind and looking at what we have seen in terms of women that have come out tells me that he indeed did that. And again, for some reason, people seem to think that it's acceptable that he was, you know, dating and/or -- whatever he was doing with a 17 or 18-year- old at the age of 32. It's not acceptable.
BLITZER: Yes. We are going to play that clip. He just gave that interview to Sean Hannity on conservative talk radio. I will play the clip because he is denying it. But do you believe the President, President Trump should now call on Roy Moore flatly to step aside?
GALLEGO: Well, absolutely. I think all of the Republican leadership should be asking him to step aside. I think the President specifically should be doing it. I doubt that he will. The President himself has at least 13 allegations against him of sexual harassment that are still out in the public. He has not been the best example in terms of showing how you should act as a leader. And maybe this will be his first attempt, and I think we would all be very impressed if he actually did it.
BLITZER: Yes. I think we have -- we listened to the interview that he gave to Sean Hannity, flatly denied having had any relationship with a 14-year-old. When he was asked about 16, 17, 18-year-old, he said that was not his character. It may not have been necessarily a flat denial, but he said it was not his character to have relationships in his 30s with a teenage girls. We are going to get that clip. I'll play it for you.
But I want to turn to the other big story right now, congressman, that we are watching right now, congressman, the aforementioned report about Michael Flynn Sr. and son, Michael Flynn Jr.
"The Wall Street Journal" you heard reporting they were actually offered $15 million to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric here in the United States living in Pennsylvania, remove him and send him back to Turkey. This cleric is currently living as you know for years in the United States.
GALLEGO: Pennsylvania, yes.
BLITZER: He is in Pennsylvania. He is accused of being, at least by the Turks, being involved in a 2016 failed coup against the Turkish government. We just got a statement from Flynn's lawyers. Let me read it to you. And I'll read it completely.
Out of respect for the process of the various investigations regarding the 2016 campaign, we have intentionally avoided responding to every rumor or allegation raised in the media. But today's news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn ranging from kidnapping to bribery that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule. They are false.
What's your reaction?
[17:15:30] GALLEGO: Well, I know for a fact that the Turkish government was very interested in actually trying to remove this cleric because many members of Congress had meetings with different Turkish parliamentarians. They were asking us to help -- to extradite this cleric. And I'm sure we said the same thing as well as many members of Congress saying that there is a judicial process that we go through in the United States. And we are not going to change it for anyone.
If this is true, this allegation is true, it's very disconcerting. Kidnapping a person who is a legal permanent resident, they still have protections under our constitution, to bring them to a foreign country in exchange for money is outright bribery. And for someone like General Flynn who at that point was moving his way into NSA -- sorry, into the director of -- had a very sensitive position within the White House to also not disclose a lot of this I think is also disturbing.
The best we can have from this is, you know, secretary -- General Flynn needs to come out, needs to explain what happened and make sure that he clears it up. And not just having these statements that he is putting on through the press because we do know there were interests. We know that there was heavy interest because many of us are getting lobbied by Turkish officials and it's not a coincidence that General Flynn did not fully disclose his monetary relationship with Turkey until it was too late and discovered by the press.
BLITZER: Congressman, there is more we are going to be discussing. I want to take a quick break, resume our conversation right after this.
[17:21:34] BLITZER: As the Russia investigation looks at his inner circle, President Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin are both attending the Asia-Pacific economic summit in Vietnam right now. The two shook hands. They spoke briefly during a photo-op.
Talking with Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. Congressman, stand by.
I want to go to our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta. He is traveling with the President in Vietnam right now.
Jim, any more meaningful contacts planned?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not at this point, Wolf. The big question on this trip for President Trump today is will he or won't he sit down and have a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin? Earlier in the week, the White House said the President expected to meet with Putin to talk about North Korea. Now the world may see little more than just a photo-op of the two leaders.
ACOSTA (voice-over): After raising expectations of a critical meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC economic summit in Vietnam, the two men may only make time for this, a quick group photo with other world leaders. The White House says both sides are running into trouble finding time for the meeting. As a frustrated Kremlin spokesman put it, in theory they could travel to Mars tonight. Life it a bit different. Let's wait and see. Administration official who has said the President wanted to call on
Putin to ramp up the pressure on North Korea are now hedging their bets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The leaders are going to be at the summit together. Wouldn't be at all unusual if they ended up with some kind of a pull-aside. The question is whether we've got sufficient substance.
ACOSTA: But a meeting with Putin would also highlight a mushrooming political problem for the President back home, the Russia investigation.
BILL RICHARDSON (D), FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: That, I think, is keeping President Trump from formally having a meeting because he is going to have to talk about that to the press and he may not want to upset President Putin because he is going to have to be strong.
ACOSTA: Overshadowed by events back in the U.S. throughout this trip from the Texas church shooting to the Virginia election defeat for the GOP and now the Roy Moore allegations, the President is trying to change the subject, continuing his calls for fair trade deals. But even on this winning issue with his base, the President is changing his tune, all but forgiving China for its trading practices.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The current trade imbalance is not acceptable. I do not blame China or any other country, of which there are many, for taking advantage of the United States on trade. If their representatives are able to get away with it, they are just doing their jobs.
ACOSTA: That's a far cry from how he blasted China in the past.
TRUMP: We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what they're doing. It's the greatest theft in the history of the world.
ACOSTA: The President vowed he would be tougher on trade than his predecessors, though he didn't lay out exactly how.
TRUMP: 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.
ACOSTA: The President paid tribute to Vietnam War veterans who gathered in Danang (ph) where Mr. Trump remembered the sacrifices made at this once crucial battleground, touting his administration's efforts to build up the U.S. military.
TRUMP: I got to know them for a few minutes up front, and they are definitely tough, smart cookies. We like them. I think they like me, too. I'm not sure but I think. No, I think they do. I think they do. I think they see what we're doing for our military.
(END VIDEOTAPE) [17:25:13] ACOSTA: And the White House is still downplaying the chances for a meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said reports of a sit-down were quote "wrong" and asked for an explanation the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov blamed the quote "pencil pushers working for President Trump."
Wolf, the Russians seemed to think that the President wants to meet with Vladimir Putin but not his team - Wolf.
BLITZER: Interesting. We'll see what happens.
Jim Acosta traveling with the President in Vietnam right now.
We are back with Democratic congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. He is a member of the armed services committee. He is also a veteran.
Were you surprised, Congressman that President Trump did not meet with Putin this morning in Danang, in Vietnam, as had been so widely anticipated?
GALLEGO: Of course I am surprised. You know, the President has an affinity for Putin, as well as Russia. Clearly, he denies that they have any type of involvement in the last election which, you know, Democrats and Republicans are now pointing out that, in fact, we have proof that they did.
But I think what you see here is a -- some good work being done by White House staff to basically keep the President from meeting Putin, whether it's for the political optics of them not meeting and what it would cause problems, or just in general because the outcomes would not be good for the United States.
You know, from what I have seen, I think from what many people have seen, we know the President really can succumb really quickly to flattery. You have Putin who is a former KGB guy. He knows how to manipulate people. So in my opinion and many others' opinion, we would rather the President stay away from Putin, you know. And so if the staff is doing it, thank you for doing it and please continue doing some good work.
BLITZER: They still have time at least for meetings on the sidelines as they say before they both leave Vietnam. We will see if that happens.
Congressman, thanks as usual for joining us.
GALLEGO: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, our breaking news. Amid calls for him to quit the race, Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore denies allegations that he once sexually abused a 14-year-old girl, calling claims against him politically motivated.
And a stunning turn in the special counsel's investigation. The former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn was reportedly offered up to $15 million to forcibly remove from the United States a Muslim cleric wanted by Turkey.
Stay with us. You are in the SITUATION ROOM.
[17:30:00] BLITZER: We're watching the breaking news in Alabama right now where the Republican Senate Candidate, Roy Moore, is rejecting calls to drop out of the special election for that U.S. Senate seat. Moore denies a Washington Post story that he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl, years ago when he was 32 years old. And just a little while ago, he called the allegation politically motivated as well as completely false and misleading.
Let's get the insights of our political and legal reporter and specialists. And David Chalian, let me play a clip. He flatly denied he had any sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl. But listen to this exchange he just had with Sean Hannity on the radio talking about the 16, 17, 18-year-old girls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, TALK RADIO SHOW HOST: Would it be normal behavior back in those days for you to date a girl that's 17 or 18?
ROY MOORE, REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: No, not normal.
HANNITY: If my daughter is 17 -- my daughter is 16-years-old. If she's 17 or 18, I don't want her dating a 32-year-old.
MOORE: I wouldn't either.
HANNITY: You can say, unequivocally, you never dated anybody that was in their late teens like that when you were 32?
MOORE: It would have been out of my customary behavior, that's right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. He flatly denied any sexual contact with a 14- year-old, but when he was asked about the 17 and 18-year-olds, he said it would've been out of, out of, out, out of my customary behavior, that's right.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. And he actually acknowledged knowing two of those women that were in The Washington Post story that was in that age range of older than 16. Obviously, the most troubling allegation in The Washington Post story is the 14- year-old. She's not 14 now. But the claim of what occurred when she was 14, not only does he flatly deny that, he says he doesn't even know that person, had never met that person, has no -- has had no contact with that person, which is at direct odds with a really exhaustive investigative piece where 30 people were interviewed, multiple sources and some court records corroborated sort of the location of events that day.
BLITZER: Yes. The court records corroborated that the 14-year-old was at that courthouse with her mother. She was going through a custody battle. And on that specific day, they went back and checked, they were both there when he allegedly, supposedly came over and said he would take care of the 14-year-old while the mother was dealing with that court case. Susan, what do you think about that argument that he's making in this interview, this latest -- the statements that he's making?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, FELLOW IN NATIONAL SECURITY IN GOVERNANCE STUDIES AT THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, so, look, it's relatively clear that he's sort of -- he's equivocating on the issue. You know, the real issue here is the question of the 14-year-old -- that was a crime. Now, he's not likely to face, sort of, criminal charges at this point. Even if you overcome the statute of limitations issues, you'd still have, sort of, the problem of proving a case, you know, 30 years later. That said, you know, if he makes comments about her now, if he accuses the -- his accusers of being liars or of potentially using their story in having been paid to give this story, which his brother has suggested, that could actually open up brand new legal claims related to sort of defamation and other issues.
[17:35:21] BLITZER: Defamation by him of her is that what you're saying?
HENNESSEY: Right, or whoever is making, sort of, statements about the accusers at this point.
BLITZER: And file a civil lawsuit.
BLITZER: On either side. Sunlen, you've been spending a lot of time up on Capitol Hill, talking to a lot of Republican Senators, and it's, it's making them all feel very, very uncomfortable.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure is, and it's a little awkward talking to them because you can sense that, you know, they want to say what they really feel about Roy Moore, but they're being careful here. And that's why we're hearing these heavily caveated statements, saying if these allegations are true, I think he should step aside in the Senate race. And that's why it makes some Republican voices like that of Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney, as we saw today, when they're saying, you know, we don't need any more proof, we believe this story, we have all the proof we need, we think he should resign or step aside now. That gives it a little bit more weight. If they go one step farther -- you know, Republicans are facing an interesting spot on Capitol Hill with Roy Moore even more than they were.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right. And David, take a look at this, the 52 Republican Senators, 19 of them have already publicly come out -- there you can see their pictures, and said that if the allegations are true, he must step down, step aside from this race. But everything you're hearing is, certainly, in this interview he just gave to Sean Hannity, he's not going anywhere.
CHALIAN: He made it clear. Not only is he not going anywhere, he said he's launching an investigation into the motivations because he believes this is politically motivated behind the accusations and that he "has evidence of collusion but provided none of it." And said, oh, at some point in the future, we'll present that to the public. What is unclear for those 19 Republicans you just showed is: how are they going to get to if true? How are they going to get to proving that? They're not. That's why when McCain and Romney say they don't need the "if true" part in their statement, they think these are credible enough that he should not be a Senate candidate.
It's unclear if that "if true" is just going to give those 19 Senate Republicans cover. And Wolf, you've got to remember, they really have no say in this other than their public voice. It is up to Roy Moore or the Alabama Republican Party to withdraw his nomination. And even if they did that, his name stays on the ballot. So, Republicans on Capitol Hill can beat their chest all they want about this. Roy Moore has said he's staying, his name is going to remain on the ballot, and most importantly, nobody has emerged suggesting they're going to launch a ride-in campaign to try to take him on from inside the Republican Party.
BLITZER: Not even the current Senator, Luther Strange.
CHALIAN: That's right.
BLITZER: You know, let's get back to the statute of limitations on the 14 -- the allegations involving the 14-year-old girl. You've done some research, Susan, on this. If the prosecution, local, state, if they wanted to go after him, is there a statute of limitations or could they file charges?
HENNESSEY: So, the Alabama code is a little ambiguous on this question. You know, sort of, some -- you could construe the language to say there's no statute of limitations, you could construe it to say that there's a three-year statute of limitations. I think, really, just sort of a practical matter of the idea that there's going to be criminal charges here; sort of a non-starter, which I think gets back to this question of what exactly does "if true" mean? Usually, we're talking about a criminal conviction, right? Sort of let the process work, let them be proven, sort of, guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, that's clearly not what's going happen, it's not what's going to happen. Meaning, that these Senators are going to have to decide, sort of, whether or not they're going to accept this individual as one of their colleagues or not.
BLITZER: Yes. The special election is only four weeks from now. So, they don't have a whole lot of time. Everyone standby. Much more happening. We'll take another quick break. We'll be right back.
[17:43:25] BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal specialists. Susan, let me get your reaction to these latest reports, the report in The Wall Street Journal about the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. And now according to The Wall Street Journal, Michael Flynn, who was the president's National Security Adviser for, what, 28 days until he was fired, is being investigated for supposedly working with the Turks in exchange for potential $15 million contract to find this Muslim -- this Turkish-Muslim cleric in Pennsylvania. Forcibly get him on a plane, fly him to a Turkish prison back in Turkey. These are serious allegations.
HENNESSEY: Yes, these are really serious allegations. So, it'd been previously reported by The Wall Street Journal and CNN as well that, sort of, a September meeting that they had discussed this. But Michael Flynn was just a campaign official at that point. This is a new allegation about a December meeting when he is the national security adviser designate.
Now, one thing that The Wall Street Journal story is, sort of, ambiguous about is: is Flynn talking about, sort of, forcibly removing him outside the legal process, right? The term for that is "kidnapping." That's an extremely serious charge. Or is he talking about, sort of, exerting his influence on a legal process on the extradition process in order to bring about Gulen's removal?
Now, even on, sort of, that less serious or less alarming, sort of, fact, that still could pose a huge problem because, reportedly, there was a discussion about Flynn and Flynn Jr. being paid up to $15 million. Using your official office, you know, for private financial gain raises bribery concerns. So, if these underlying allegations are true, these are very, very serious charges.
BLITZER: And by the way, the lawyers for Michael Flynn Sr., they have issued a statement flatly denying it, saying these allegations are false. But Mueller, potentially, what you're suggesting, could use Michael Flynn Jr., sort of, as leverage on senior?
HENNESSEY: Right. So, we should be clear -- and it's not as though Mueller is going after Michael Flynn Jr., a totally innocent individual, just for the purposes of pressuring his father. It's clear that Flynn Jr. was intimately involved in these discussions, and potentially as a proper subject of this probe. But you don't have to be a legal analyst, you just have to be a parent to understand how that might change Mike Flynn Sr.'s calculation about whether or not he wants to cooperate with Mueller's investigation. He can spare his son, really, substantial criminal time -- or substantial jail time, that might really change the way he's thinking about that.
[17:45:44] BLITZER: All right. Everybody, standby. There's more news we're following. President Trump once again turning up the rhetoric against North Korea, will tighter sanctions persuade Kim Jong-un to change his ways?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[17:50:34] BLITZER: In Vietnam today, President Trump once again got personal as he blasted North Korea's Kim Jong-un. The President is pressing world leaders to enact even tougher sanctions against the Kim regime. Let's bring in our own Brian Todd. Brian looks like some of the recently tightened, what, they may be having an impact. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They could well be, Wolf. Tonight,
Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is citing some evidence they're getting from human intelligence indicating that the sanctions have taken a toll on Kim's regime. Tillerson said, specifically, members of North Korea's military could be feeling the heat. This comes as President Trump calls on North Korea's closest ally to keep up the pressure on Kim Jong-un.
TODD: President Trump implores his Asian allies: don't let North Korea's young, strong man get away with the weapons build-up.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The future of this region and its beautiful people must not be held hostage to a dictator's twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail.
TODD: Tonight, Trump is hitting Kim Jong-un on two fronts, another personal attack and a call on China to tighten the economic screw on Kim. But, at the same time, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says, U.S. Intelligence indicates the sanctions just imposed on Kim following his hydrogen bomb test in September are working. The highest-ranking North Korean defector in decades, a former diplomat, tells CNN the sanctions would be chipping away at the loyalty Kim's closest lieutenants.
THAE YONG-HO, FORMER DEPUTY AMBASSADOR, NORTH KOREA'S U.K. EMBASSY: Kim Jong-un doesn't have enough money to buy the hearts of North Korean leadership, so these years, Kim Jong-un could not deliver the luxury, you know, gifts to his senior leaders. So, so far, the only means he can use is the reign of terror.
TODD: The new sanctions are supposed to be cutting North Korea's oil imports, cutting Kim's sales of textiles overseas, and shutting off the flow of money from the laborers he sends overseas who build statues and buildings in places like Africa. The U.S. believes they send back more than $500 million a year, almost all of it going into Kim's pockets to be used to buy off those closest to Kim.
MARCUS NOLAND, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: The regime actually gives you bonuses, gives you gifts. You may get cash, you may get a television, you may get a car. And it also provides a platform for basically engaging in extortion. So, you're able to squeeze people in the market, you are able to engage in businesses that maybe other people aren't.
TODD: That's the carrot approach Kim uses to keep his elites loyal. The stick, according to the defector, has been Kim's binge of bloody purges since he took power. Hundreds of top officials executed, including his own uncle, some with aircraft guns.
THAE: Mostly, all the elite and leaders in North Korea are frightened. That's why it seemed that Kim consolidated his power in a very short span of time. But what I want to say for the long run, I don't think that he actually consolidated his power. (END VIDEOTAPE)
TODD: Analysts believe the sanctions are eroding Kim's ability to pay off his elites. They say he might have stashed away a lot of money and goods to pay them off while the sanctions take effect. The question tonight is how long that stash is going to last and what happens when it runs out. Wolf?
BLITZER: Good question. Brian, that defector also gave you some really fascinating insight into why Kim really wants to build his nuclear weapons arsenal.
TODD: That's right, Wolf. Thae Yong-ho says, once Kim gets a nuclear weapon that he can actually launch at America, that's when he's going to want to negotiate with the United States. Thae says, Kim believes he's going to be able to strong-arm the U.S. into pulling all of its forces out of South Korea. Then, he says, Kim believes South Korea is going to collapse. That's his goal at the end of this, it's strange, but that's what Kim believes, he says.
[17:54:35] BLITZER: Very strange, indeed. All right. Brian, thanks very much. Coming up, a bombshell allegation. The former White House National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, was offered $15 million to abduct a Muslim cleric living in the United States, and then turn him over to Turkey. Flynn's lawyers are now speaking up.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, not backing down. GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore speaking out tonight about allegations of sexual abuse, denying he had a relationship with a 14-year-old when he was in his 30s. Moore, calling this a desperate political attack, even as some fellow Republicans abandon him.
$15 Million offer? New reporting tonight on fire truck National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, under investigation in an alleged plot to abduct a Muslim cleric wanted by a key U.S. ally. The Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, closing in on Flynn.
Moscow money man. CNN tracks down a Russian billionaire with ties to Vladimir Putin and to indicted former Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort. Wait until you hear how he responded to our questions.