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Roy Moore Fights Back Against Sexual Allegations; CIA Director Stands by U.S. Intel Finding Russia Meddled in Election; Russian Press Secretary Says Trump & Putin Did Not Discuss Election Meddling; Comedian Louis C.K. Admits Sexual Misconduct; UCLA Basketball Players Arrested for Theft in China. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired November 11, 2017 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually don't think it's a bad thing to do a bit of cleaning of house here. I think Dave is being a little overly optimistic in thinking he'll take a House. You're looking at a lot of seats that are safe Republican seats. You're going to get a different kind of Republican. I will say, Fredricka, the risk we run of running a bunch of first-time candidates in these primary seats, in these races, we get candidates that have issues like Roy Moore and all of a sudden implode --


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It would seem more of the tribalism you speak of, it would seem.

All right.

John Thomas, Dave Jacobson, we'll leave it there. Thank you so much.


All right. Hello again, everyone, thank you so much for being with me this saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We continue to follow the evolving story of Alabama Judge Roy Moore. Hecklers were erupting as the Alabama Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate arrived at a Veteran's Day event earlier today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you mean by that, sir?



WHITFIELD: This is Judge Moore's first public appearance since scathing allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him. The fire brand judge is fighting back against claims he assaulted a then- 14-year-old girl, decades ago, when Moore was in his 30s.

Here is what Moore had to say at that event.


ROY MOORE, (R), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE FOR ALABAMA: "The Washington Post" published yet another attack on my character and reputation in a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign for the United States Senate. These attacks involve a minor, and they are completely false and untrue.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Alex Marquardt was at that event.

So, Alex, what else did the judge say?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he really did face these allegations head-on. At first this was about the veterans and he thanked the veterans for their service and paid tribute to them and all the men and women who fought overseas. Then he turned to these allegations. There was really no way that he couldn't. This is the first time that he's been in public and spoke out directly against these allegations. He said in no uncertain terms was there any sexual misconduct. He also said it was absolutely unbelievable the allegations are coming out just now, only a month away from the special election. It's unbelievable the allegations are coming out almost 40 years after they allegedly took place. Take a listen.


MOORE: I want to make it clear to the media present and the people present I have not provided alcohol beverages -- alcoholic beverages, beer, or anything else, to a minor. I have not been guilty of sexual misconduct with anyone. These allegations came only four and a half weeks before the general election on December 12th. Why now? For 40 years, I have been closely scrutinized in the press and the public media. I've had investigations by the attorney general. I've had investigation by the judicial inquiry on more than one occasion. I've had investigations by the court of the judiciary. I've been in five statewide campaigns in which they do opposition research. They do investigations. As you can see, in every one I've run. Three-county elections and two major controversies over religious liberty and the Ten Commandments and same-sex marriage. I've been investigated more than any other person in this country. To think that grown women would wait 40 years to come before -- right before an election to bring charges is absolutely unbelievable.


MOORE: Why now?


MARQUARDT: Why now? That is the refrain we've been hearing from the Moore campaign and from his supporters.

Now we have to remember when the story broke these women had not come forward, these four women who were allegedly in their teens at the time. They were found by "The Washington Post." Moore's supporters are alleging this is some sort of campaign to defame him.

We do have to remember these women were found by "The Post" and "The Post" convinced them to give a statement.

We have heard today from a lawyer of one of the young women, she was allegedly 18 at the time. Her name is Gloria. The lawyer says Moore is making defamatory statements: "He knows full well why these women did not tell what he did to them before this week. As young teenaged girls in the late 1970s, in a small, rural southern town, they had no way of knowing their rights, especially against him considering he was a district attorney at the time. As he gained more power within the Alabama judiciary, they likely feared he would publicly persecute them, precisely as he has done this week" -- Fred?

[13:05:11] WHITFIELD: All right, Alex Marquardt, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about all of this with CNN political commentators, Maria Cardona and Doug Hye, the former communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Good to see you both.

Doug, let me begin with you.

The White House and a growing number of Senate Republicans are saying if the allegations are true, Roy Moore should step aside. But it's unlikely this case would ever end up in court. So these qualifiers, if true, how does this sit among the GOP establishment and its support overall of Roy Moore?

DOUG HYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the support is quickly vanishing. Steve Danes, Republican Senator, pulled his support today. Bob Corker said earlier today -- or tweeted earlier today, look, we knew this guy was a disaster before this. We shouldn't have gotten to this point. That's one of the things Republicans are struggling with right now is Roy Moore is the nominee. He's obviously a terrible nominee. And, again, before these revelations. And if you read Beth Rinehart's story from "The Washington Post" this is as tight a story, as tightly reported a story as I've ever read. These are true. We know that from the details and the layers of the number of people who have come out on this and the reaction that we've seen from Roy Moore's campaign of attacking the people who are making these come straight from the Bill Clinton playbook, the Harvey Weinstein playbook. It's not what Republicans want to be talking about for the next year and a half as they move -- or the next year as they move to the November elections, the midterm elections. We need to get Roy Moore off the docket.

WHITFIELD: It doesn't really just impact the Roy Moore. Like you said, Doug, it impacts a lot of people within the GOP establishment.

And then when you have the White House, you have Sarah Sanders, Maria, saying a few different things of, you know, if true, at the same time someone's career should not be destroyed by mere allegations. That was the word, mere allegations, can you have it both ways, meaning, you know, distance -- the White House trying to distance itself from Roy Moore but at the same time saying, well wait a minute, let's see. And you have others like a John McCain who are coming out very strong saying allegations, you know, alone mean that he's not even fit for office or even running for office.


WHITFIELD: So what is this doing as a whole to the GOP establishment?

CARDONA: I think it's completely eroding the party which is why people like my very common-sense friend, Doug Hye, just stated what he stated. I couldn't agree more with what he said. He also missed one other person's playbook that is using exactly the reaction that Roy Moore's campaign is using and that is Donald Trump's. I think one of the things this really hurts in the GOP is exactly one year ago we saw these same types of allegations, similar allegations, of sexual misconduct and, frankly, sexually predatory behavior, come out from Donald Trump and from his own mouth as he was bragging about accosting women because he was a celebrity. A lot of GOP establishment looked the other way, held their nose, and elected Donald Trump. And what we have seen in the recent elections a lot of people are saying enough is enough. Even before allegations came out, again, to WHITFIELD: John McCain's point, to Doug Hye's point, this was not a nominee that, frankly, many in the GOP other than his most-staunchest supporters in Alabama thought he would be a good representation of the party. And the Democrat, Doug Jones, was tied in many polls even before these allegations came out. I think this is a big problem for the GOP.

WHITFIELD: But the GOP, inside the Beltway, sees it very differently than, you know, or the district, in which Roy Moore is running, Doug. So then potentially if he does win this special election how will a Roy Moore work with other leaders on the Hill, in the Senate, if he does win? That is a scenario that those on to be thinking about.

HYE: Sure. I think the quick answer is not well. It's why I hope that Republicans and Democrats for to block Roy Moore if he's successful. And here is the reason why, Fred. If you're a Republican like me and want to repeal and replace Obamacare, you want to pass tax reform. We had a problem with akin. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat in the Senate from Indiana because we had Richard Murdoch (ph), a race that he was supposed to win. We had allegations again and unfortunate language from him talking about these issues that impact women in very personal ways. We've seen this happen in races before. We could have passed tax reform already if we had those two Senate seats. Other terrible candidates, who let Harry Reid win, Christine O'Donnell that let Chris Coons win. That's why they are asking what is more important, saving one Senate seat or the larger distraction over a year or losing the Senate lose-lose situation. What we're looking at is the sad end of a bad bullfight. And it's unfortunately, Donald Trump's responsibility right now to stick in that sword and put Roy Moore and his campaign out of its misery.

[13:10:52] WHITFIELD: So, Maria, while there seems to be some real consternation within the GOP about what to say, how to say or not to say anything as it pertains to Roy Moore, what about the Dems? There has been a bit of radio silence among the Democrats as well. Why? CARDONA: Why should we get in the middle of a fight within a party

that is killing each other? Doug Jones is running actually a good campaign, a disciplined campaign. He doesn't need to get into the middle of this because Roy Moore is causing so many problems for himself without the Democrats or Doug Jones really injecting anything else here. What the Democrat needs to do in this race is to continue to talk about what he would do for Alabamans, how he would represent the moderate and even conservative values of Alabamans not the hypocritical, morally corrupt values of those conservatives who would rather elect Roy Moore and put party or their conservative face before their own principles. It's a deal with the devil that they're making by supporting this man. That is as controversial -- he is as controversial as they come and, again, with these new allegations coming out, it doesn't just hurt Roy Moore. It hurts the broader Republican Party. And so I think the Democrats really just need to continue to focus on the issues, on what people in Alabama care about, on how they are going to put food on the table, how they're going to make ends meet, how they're going to offer a brighter future for their children and how they're going to do it in a way that makes the state proud. Right now, Roy Moore is not making Alabamans proud.

WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there.

Maria Cardona, Doug Hye, thank you.

Still ahead, Russia's press secretary now says Presidents Trump and Putin did not talk about the U.S. election and meddling, after saying the two had not. So why the reversal?


[13:15:10] WHITFIELD: All right. The head of the CIA is firing back at President Trump who says he believes Vladimir Putin's election meddling denials. Just moments ago, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a Trump appointee, released this statement saying, quote, "The director stands by he has always stood by and always stood by the January 17 intelligence community assessment. The assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed"

Putin spokesperson originally denied the two leaders, Putin and Trump, discussed U.S. meddling election while overseas there in Asia. But then moments ago, the Kremlin reversed course, now saying Putin told Trump he, quote, "He categorically rejected even the hypothetical possibility that Russia could somehow interfere in the election process."

Let's get the very latest now on this from Ivan Watson who is following the president and is in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Ivan, what else did the president say to reporters about this conversation while on air force one?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, President Trump said he had two or three very short conversations with Russian President Putin at that APEC summit, perhaps one of them was around one of those photo opportunities when the two men were seen walking together afterwards. And, as you pointed out, he said the issue of alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. Election came up and that President Putin denied it. He went on to say, quote, "every time he sees me, he says I didn't do that, and I believe, I really believe when he tells me that he means it. I think he is very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth."

Well, President Trump went on to lob some of his own insults. He pretty much insulted former heads of intelligence agencies, John Brennan, the former direct of the CIA, James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, calling them political hacks, calling James Comey, of course, the former director of the FBI, a liar. He went on to say that he thinks that a good relationship with Russia would be a great thing and that this, quote, "artificial Democratic hit job is getting in the way."

Areas where President Trump said he believes the U.S. and Russia could cooperate, on the war in Syria. And they did put a joint statement on that. On Ukraine as well. And that conflict, of course, the Ukrainian government accuses Russia of starting the conflict and fueling it in the first place -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, Ivan Watson, thank you so much, in Hanoi.

Let's talk more about this. Joining me now, CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, and CNN political analysts, Josh Rogin and Brian Karem.

Good to see you all.

Josh, you first.

Trump has said he trusts Putin over U.S. intelligence. Pompeo trying to make it very clear he does back U.S. intelligence. Why is this something the president wants to keep saying on the world stage?

[13:20:18] JOSH ROGIN, CNN: Right. I would say I'm shocked but not surprised. This is exactly the same thing President Trump has been saying ever since he's been in office. He doesn't really believe the Russians hacked it. It's all a hoax. That's contradicted by not only all of the intelligence leaders from the past administration but all of his officials, not just Pompeo, Mattis, Tillerson, McMaster, you name it.

Now the question that you asked is the right question. What does he get by going into all of this? And the answer is nothing. He's simply asked a question and he decided to pontificate about how our accusing Russia of hacking our democracy is an insult to Russia and that's bad for us. And that shows you the psychology of the president who doesn't even think it's worth it to press the Russians on it. And then when they say they didn't do it, well, case closed. I don't think that's the end of it. What this means is we're going to have a prolonged dispute between the president and all of his national security officials about this which harms the effort to address the ongoing problem of Russian interference that will persist not just in America but around the world heading into the next election and the election after that. And, secondly, by the way, he totally crowded out any mention of the

actual reason he was in Vietnam to participate in this huge economic summit and unveil his strategic framework. No one will talk about that because he just said all this crazy stuff about Russia.

WHITFIELD: And, Elise, it's almost as if the president is demonstrating that it is more important to be in good graces with Russia's Putin than in good graces with the American intelligence community. And then, since our conversation last, there's been an about-face. Remember, we talked, and the Kremlin said they didn't talk about that. They talked about the economy. And now the Kremlin is saying it was discussed. So, first, tackle why it appears to be so important for the president to make sure that he is laying the groundwork for a good relationship with Putin as opposed to maintaining a good relationship with U.S. intelligence.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Fred, I really don't see it as the president trying to maintain this great relationship with President Putin. He's clearly said he wants to have that relationship. The Russians wanted to meet today. President Putin did want to meet. President Trump did not take the opportunity to have that meeting though they have these kinds of discussions on the margins. Obviously as Josh mentioned there's a lot of things for the U.S. and Russia to discuss. Russian actions in Syria, Russian actions in Ukraine, how Russia could help on North Korea. And so if he wanted a better relationship with Russia and clearly Russia doesn't want to talk about the so-called meddling in the election as President Trump puts it, he could do that. I think what President Trump is trying to do is to any idea that the Russians meddled in the election, but because this goes to the very heart of President Trump's -- how he sees his legitimacy, whether he won the election fair and square. I think there are two things going on. He does want this better relationship with Russia. When he disputes his own intelligence community and sides with President Putin, I think it's more about saying no one meddled in the election. I'm the legitimate president. I don't think anybody is really saying that he isn't the legitimate president.

But on the issue of them discussing it, whether they did discuss it, whether they didn't, look, you saw those pictures of the two of them laughing and giggling as they're walking in some photo. Now when the Russians are coming back it seems as if President Trump might have said it in an off handed way. This Russian meddling continues to be a fascination of everybody and President Putin might have said, look, I had nothing to do with it, it was a substantive discussion.

WHITFIELD: Pompeo has said, well, I believe in our U.S. intelligence. Does this now redevelop perhaps a greater divide between Trump and his chiefs?

BRIAN KAREM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we're all kind of missing the point. To say actually had this conversation then what happened, if you follow the president's storyline and his logic, then Putin and him discussed exonerating Hillary Clinton for colluding with the Russians because that's his storyline. It wasn't him. It was Hillary. If there was no collusion, then I guess Hillary is not guilty.

Secondly, he gets a lot of his references from popular culture, so he looks like Rodney Dangerfield in "Back to School" when he's talking about Dean Martin, I can't tell a lie, I didn't do it. Then he goes, hey, look, I asked him. He's not lying. And of course, it is a divide with his own people because there is absolutely, at this point, very little doubt that the Russian government had something to do with our election. And that's the and that's what he doesn't want to you see. I was up on the Hill talking with everyone from Nancy Pelosi to Jeff Flake. And their problem is the United States is offering one story on Monday, a different one on tuesday, and then a third one on Wednesday. You can't keep track of the stories and none have any relationship with fact.


[13:25:46] WHITFIELD: So then what? Everyone describes this frustration, but then what?

KAREM: That's a good question. You're not going to find the GOP tearing itself apart because is it country first or the party first? And then the Democrats. But the real situation you have to look at, take a step back from it. Listen to what the man says. Try to follow him logically. It cannot be done because these are not facts.


Elise --


KAREM: We tried to report vetted facts. He does not.

LABOTT: I mean, I think -- I do agree that we're all getting off point, but I think the point is we can't stop looking for -- we have to stop looking for President Trump to have some kind of aha moment on this Russian meddling. We have intelligence say that go they did it. They've laid out a lot of evidence. I think the vast majority of the Congress, of the country, even the administration believes they did. President Trump will not make that declaration. I think we need to hold him to account going forward with Russia.


LABOTT: What the policy is going --


LABOTT: Can I finish? I let you speak, let me finish.

KAREM: I'm sorry.

LABOTT: I think the policies on Russia, Josh is right. There's so much going on, on this presidential trip, is everybody is focused on this one thing, whether he asked President Trump about the meddling. He's not going to do that. He's not going to make some kind of big declaration. There are a lot of important issues that the U.S. has with Russia not just about the meddling and the election but about his behavior in Syria, about his behavior in Ukraine. And I think where we have to keep on making sure Russia doesn't do this, again, but we also need to keep track of what Russia is doing in the rest of the world and how we're going to shape U.S. policies going forward.

WHITFIELD: All right, Josh, real quick?


ROGIN: I have to say to build off what Elise just said, that's exactly right. It's not really just about the meddling. It's about the fact the president of the United States doesn't understand and doesn't see clearly the true character and nature of President Putin and the Russian regime which is battling against U.S. Interests and U.S. policies.

WHITFIELD: Or does -- or does but wants people to think that he doesn't.


ROGIN: If we believe what he says --


KAREM: I think Josh is right. The bottom line here is you're dealing with a president who is trying to blunder his way through. He's great at blarney. Believe me, I grew up -- my father was a car salesman. I get it. He's good at the baloney but not with facts.

ROGIN: Or foreign policy.


KAREM: Or foreign policy, absolutely.


KAREM: The bottom line is he's going to try to blunder his way through it.

WHITFIELD: We'll have you all back because we have so much to talk about all the time.

Elise, Josh, Brian, thank you.

KAREM: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: So much more straight ahead.

But first, when Justin Salas lost his sight as a teenager, he found rock climbing. A hobby that has taken him to the top of that sport.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JUSTIN SALAS, BLIND ROCK CLIMBER: I get to kind of interact with rock in a way I think very few people get to experience. Climbing has taught me to navigate the world in a completely different way.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Justin is a professional rock climber and is also legally blind.

SALAS: Being a young teen boy and losing your vision is one of the hardest things I could imagine. I was about to get my learner's permit and that was just robbed from me.

GUPTA: Despite years of tests doctors couldn't determine the cause of his vision loss.

SALAS: I spent probably two or three years just not doing anything at all until a friend of mine that worked at the local gym told me I didn't need to see to rock climb, and I was hooked.

GUPTA: Justin can't see anything straight ahead, so he relies mainly on his peripheral vision.

SALAS: When I'm looking at a wall, I don't see holds most of the time. It's feel or muscle memory or having a sight guide tell me.

GUPTA: That's where Matt Fredrick some in.

MATT FREDRICK, SIGHT GUIDE: Your next foot is at your waist.

GUPTA: As a sight guide, he directs Justin up the wall.

FREDRICK: I've learned a lot about how he climbs, and I think what would he want to do here? Based on that I'll call holds in a specific order.

13:30:00] GUPTA: Together, they're heading to the IFC World Cup where Justin will climb against other visually impaired competitors.

On his first ascent, Justin will climb against other visually impaired competitors.

FREDRICK: You're on a bolt. You're on a bolt.

GUPTA: By mistakenly stepping on a bolt that wasn't a part of the course, his first climb was disqualified.

FREDERICK: It's just no go. Sorry.

GUPTA: But he regained ground on the second climb, and qualified for the finals.

FREDRICK: Good job.

GUPTA: In the main event, Justin challenged for the top spot, coming in just short of finishing first.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, a big round of applause. Justin Salas from the USA.

JUSTIN SALAS, BLIND ROCK CLIMBER: I had no idea I was going to do this well. All I wanted to do was make finals and getting second place for my first World Cup is really cool.



[13:35:31] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: In the wake of mounting sexual harassment allegations from Hollywood to Capitol Hill, the Me Too social media campaign will head to the streets of Hollywood for a march tomorrow afternoon. The campaign's organizers say they want to encourage women from all backgrounds to come forward and tell their stories of sexual harassment and abuse.

The most recent fallout from sexual misconduct in Hollywood surrounds comedian, Louis C.K., accused of inappropriate behavior. In a statement, C.K. said these stories are true: "At the time, I said to myself that what I did was OK because I never showed a woman my privates without asking first, which is also true."

Joining me now to discuss, CNN entertainment reporter, Chloe Melas, and CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan.

Good to see you both.

Chloe, you first.

More details now about this apology, which many people are saying is not really an apology. It's an interesting statement, though.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: All right, Fredricka, you're right. So at first upon first glance Louis C.K. release this had statement. He name-checks all the victims that came forward in "The New York Times" story with the exception with the one anonymous right in the top line but he doesn't say the words I am sorry. And a lot of people have taken issue with that. He also mentions multiple times in there about how he was so admired and how he was this big star it seemed self-serving. It is very different from Harvey Weinstein's M.O. Which was to deny, deny, deny allegations. And then you have Kevin Spacey that gave a sorry/not sorry apology when allegations came out against him. He's gone radio silent. It is an apology, but some people are taking issue it wasn't good enough.

WHITFIELD: And so, Paul, while you have the apologies or statements and that's being examined, when you hear Chloe remind us, you know, Kevin Spacey and the allegations against him, productions have cut him out of the equation. With Louis C.K., HBO, FX, they have dropped him out of productions. And we're talking about repercussions or consequences coming to some of these entertainers or people who are alleged to be acting inappropriately or even of sexual assault. But what about the potential legal road or criminal offenses? I mean, we are hearing less about whether there's a pursuit of any of that.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's a difficult road, Fred, on criminal liability for these cases because if women don't come forward relatively contemporaneously with the act, later on in a courtroom in front of a jury, it's kind of hard to prove. Louis C.K. admits he did these things although he claims that the women at least nominally consented. He does apologize saying he didn't realize saying at the time they were consenting under his power --


WHITFIELD: And in that case, we're talking about exposing oneself, not allegations of sexual assault which in the case of Kevin Spacey there is that. But go ahead.

CALLAN: Yes. So in his case, you wouldn't really be talking so much about a potential criminal case but a potential civil case that would be available. I think, though, when you look at his case, the Louis C.K. Case, it's like when I look at somebody who I know is wearing a toupee. Every time I see them again it's hard to have a serious conversation because I start thinking about the toupee. Well, I think when he tries to run his comedy act again he's going to be facing that problem. People are only going to think about this case and what he's admitted doing to women. I think it's going to be entirely destructive of his career regardless of the apology.

In terms of Kevin Spacey and possible criminal liability, Harvey Weinstein and possible criminal liability, there exists the possibility that can occur particularly in the Weinstein case because some of his actions occurred in New York, and New York has no statute of limitations on rape cases. So it depends on where it happened and what the statute of limitations was where the occurrences occurred.

WHITFIELD: And, quickly, Chloe, regardless of criminal liability, what is the explanation as to why big production Houses, your HBO, your FX, are divorcing themselves from these latest names and big stars even though there hasn't been a conviction in the court of law?

[13:40:17] MELAS: It all comes down to the bottom line and, unfortunately, in this case it's not about morality. It comes down to money. And that's because people have a lot -- these big companies, these film companies like Sony who just cut and recast Kevin Spacey out of their upcoming movie set to come out in six weeks and they've replaced him. Netflix decided to not move forward with Kevin Spacey with "House of cards" and Netflix now booting Louis C.K.'s upcoming comedy special. They don't want to lose audiences and they don't want to lose money. And so they have to distance themselves as soon as the allegations come out. It doesn't matter if there's criminal charges. With social media they can gauge public outrage so much quicker than a few years ago so they're able to see how upset people are over allegations like this. And they're basically setting the bar high, saying we're not going to stand for this anymore. Is there going to be change in Hollywood? I think there is. You're seeing companies move even quicker than before.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it right there.

Chloe Melas, Paul Callan, thank you so much.

MELAS: Thank you.

CALLAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll be right back.


[13:45:39] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China could be stuck in the country for many weeks. Freshmen Liangelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill are reportedly out on bail in the country after being arrested earlier this week for allegedly stealing designer sun glasses from a high-end luxury store. UCLA is in China, where it took on Georgia Tech and the Bruins, winning without those three players.

Let's discuss this with our legal experts what the legal road ahead is.

Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor in Cleveland, and Richard Herman, a New York criminal defense attorney, joining us from Las Vegas.

Good to see you both.



Good to see you, too.

Avery, you first.

How will these players fight these charges in China?

FRIEDMAN: Well, they can't. I mean, everything we're used to, we've talk about Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein. The fact is there's no presumption of innocence. You have to sign the statement. The hallmark of Chinese justice such as it is, is you have to show contrition. You have to be apologetic. What we've seen in Liangelo's case is the father, Lavar, is going public saying this is no big deal. Well, it is a great big legal meatball. It's a big problem. And how they're going to fight it, frankly, doesn't exist. There's a 99 percent conviction rate in the Chinese courts. And I think this is one great big problem.

WHITFIELD: Yes, this is potentially really scary, Richard, for these young people.

What about UCLA, what kind of obligation as a university to come to the legal defense of these kids who are sponsors of their university? They're sponsors of the U.S. They are ambassadors of the U.S. and their university while abroad. Now they've gotten themselves in trouble. What obligation does UCLA have, if any, to assist in their legal fight while abroad?

HERMAN: Fred, legally, I don't know they have any obligation. Morally, these are their players.


HERMAN: They want them back on the team for the season. They'll step up. In China they take it very serious shoplifting. It's not just a slap on the wrist. It can go two ways. It can go administratively or criminally. If it goes administratively, there will be another probably week or two where they'll have to stay in this hotel and then there may be a small fine and they'll be banned from ever coming to China again and they'll be released. If it goes criminally, Avery is right, the 99.2 percent conviction rate in court there. The only issue when you go to trial in China is what's the sentence going to be? That's the issue. So everybody criticizes the U.S. jurisprudence system. We say it's not perfect, but it's the best. Here's an example why our system is the best. You go to trial there, the only issue is sentence. So they can be sentenced anywhere from one to three to 10 years in prison for this depending on the value of the sunglasses.

AVERY: Depending on the cost of the glasses.


AVERY: Depending on the cost.

HERMAN: These are expensive glasses, up to $2,000 a pair.

AVERY: Right.

HERMAN: But realistically, Fred, the way it will play out is administrative. Trump was just there. They want good relations with the U.S.

WHITFIELD: I was wondering how might that, you know --

HERMAN: That's a plus.

WHITFIELD: -- impact or help in any way? Might there be goodwill from China, given the president of the United States was just there, near simultaneous to the visit of these young men in China?

Avery, is there any expectation the State Department would step in on behalf of these young men say to China, look, you know, we're trying to work on things, two countries, let bygones be bygones? Is there any hope like that diplomacy?

FRIEDMAN: I think there's more of a political reality than the legal reality. If it were 24 hours ago, Fredricka, that may have been true. Now that the president is in Vietnam, now he's slamming China, of all things. So to the extent there was goodwill built in Beijing, I'm not sure that's there anymore. But I do agree that the political implications of freeing these young men absolutely supersede the reality of the legal issues because somebody could really be in a lot of trouble. I'm in agreement. This isn't petty theft. In China, it's a serious matter. These kids have a problem. If there's a solution, let's hope it is political, because it's certainly not going to be legal.

[13:50:27] WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh.

Last word, Richard?

HERMAN: I think administratively, another couple weeks, they're going to be sent home and banned from coming back to China again. I think that's how it will resolve itself.


All right. Richard Herman, Avery Friedman, always good to see you. Thanks so much.

HERMAN: Take care, Fred.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. This just in, the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, will open the sanctuary where 25 people and an unborn were killed a week ago. In a statement, the church said this: "This is our church, but it is not just us that are suffering. This tragedy has rocked our nation and has had an impact on all Americans and our country as a whole. It is our hope that this will be healing for everyone."

So, the church opening up today.

We also heard from the suspect's ex-wife. Here's what she said.


TERESA BRENNAMAN, CHURCH GUNMAN'S EX-WIFE: He had a gun in his holster right here and took it out and put it to my temple and told me, "Do you want to die? Do you want to die?


[13:54:30] WHITFIELD: Still some unanswered questions.

All right. There's so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, right after this.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A special reunion this Veteran's Day. A soldier deployed for almost 10 months returned home and surprised his daughters at their school. This was the reaction.




WHITFIELD: Oh, gosh, always so sweet. So lovely. A student had filled the gym for what they thought was going to be a Veteran's Day assembly. Little did they know it would be this kind of moment.


CHESSEN: They were very disappointed, so coming out a little bit early was a fun way to surprise them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To have him back, it's the best feeling in the world.

CHESSEN: I saw the tears on this one first. Then I had to fight them back myself.


WHITFIELD: Oh, too sweet. Congrats to that family.

All right, the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We're continuing to follow a major story this hour. Judge Roy Moore, the --