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Trump and Putin Speak; Trump's Asia Trip; Ron Moore Insists Allegations Are False; Russia Investigation; Lebanese President Demands Hariri's Return; Louis C.K. Admits Guilt. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired November 11, 2017 - 02:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin meet briefly at the APEC Summit in Vietnam. Russian media reports they've been talking about Syria. We'll go live to Da Nang in just a moment.

This as the Russia investigation in the U.S. focuses on Mr. Trump's former national security advisor. Michael Flynn was allegedly offered millions of dollars to deliver a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. to Turkey.

And a political crisis brews in Lebanon following the Saad Hariri's resignation as prime minister, the question Beirut. Is he being held hostage by Saudi Arabia?

Hi, everybody, and thank you for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier, live from the CNN NEWSROOM here in Atlanta.


VANIER: U.S. President Trump is in Vietnam for the Asia Pacific Summit and while talks to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership are going forward without the U.S., the major story line for the American president is his interactions with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

They spoke briefly a little while ago while walking together to a photo op. You see it there. And the Russian state media reports that the two leaders have approved a joint statement on Syria after a short chat on the sidelines of the summit.

The contents of that statement, not clear yet.

Nic Robertson is watching the summit unfold in Vietnam.

Nic, what more do we know?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, we just got some details that TASS, the Russian state news agency, has released about this joint communique, what it is President Putin and President Trump agreed to continue to confront ISIS and Syria, that they agreed to share information, military coordination to avoid mishaps in the Middle East, that they agreed on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria, that they agree that the Geneva peace process should be continued.

Really that's a statement of continuation of everything that's already in place, it would be a headline if there was an abrogation of any of those particular points there. It is slightly interesting that Russia says it agrees on the Geneva peace process.

It did seem recently that they have been pushing to move that process to Sochi in Russia, indicating it might take it out of the hands of the U.N. It's supposed to be a peace plan that rolls along the terms of U.N. resolution 2254, that's basically completed last year.

But the terms of it lead to Assad's removal from power and that's something that Russia has equivocated on , to say the least, and the United States continues to insist on. So that's a point of interest there.

But let's look back to last summer, when President Trump and President Putin met for 2.75 hours in Hamburg on the margins of the G20, a bilateral there. During the process of that conversation, the communique at the end came out about the agreement in Syria of a cessation of fighting in a small part of Syria.

That felt a little more substantial that the two leaders haven't sat down in a bilateral, that this is the substance that we are learning from TASS, the Russian state news agency. It almost seems as if everyone is trying to tamp down this great expectation of some meeting between Trump and Putin that really has not actually happened.

Yes, they have talked; yes, they've shaken hands. They have not taken time to step aside at all it appears, as far as we know so far, to get into some substantive discussion.

VANIER: Nic, it's worth noting, we have not gotten confirmation from the White House of what was said. That matters because last time they met, months ago at the G20 summit, there were actually disagreements and different assessments of exactly was said during the meeting. So that's worth mentioning.

Now, Nic, on trade, that's been an important talking point. Mr. Trump gave a blistering speech and putting forth his vision of economic nationalism. Turns out the region is going ahead with a major trade deal without the United States.

ROBERTSON: Yes, President Trump has come away from the talks so far in Asia with in South Korea, in China and in Japan, with prime minister Abe, where he played golf with the prime minister there. They got on really well, it appeared.

But that seems to belie deep divisions since prime minister Abe, that's really led the remnants of the TPP nations, the 11 nations, of course President Trump pulled out of that agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, pretty much as soon as he came into office at the beginning of the year. So why yesterday President Trump laid out his view of sort of steering

the United States away from big international political trade deals, talking about -- and his readiness and the United States' willingness to do bilateral deals as long as they were fair, balanced and reciprocal, the answer from everyone in the room listening to it -- and there was a small round of applause at the end of his speech yesterday, but the real answer seems to be prime minister Abe from Japan leading the way, with the other 11 nations from the TPP saying we think this --


ROBERTSON: -- is the economic way forward. We think these big international trade deals are the way forward. But if the United States doesn't want to be part of it, then, in the words of Xi Jinping yesterday, those who stay out of the historic trend of globalization become isolated and get left behind.

And that seems to be what President trump is being presented with here today. He said one thing yesterday and the audience has gone in the other direction today.

VANIER: Nic Robertson reporting on the ongoing meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam. Thank you very much.

More possible trouble for former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn. It reads like a novel. An alleged plot, a proposed kidnapping and, in the end, a Turkish prison, all wrapped up in an investigation by the special counsel. But the consequences of this could be very real. CNN's Pamela Brown has the details on this.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: CNN has learned special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Flynn's role in the alleged plot to forcibly remove Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a legal permanent resident of the United States.

"The Wall Street Journal" reports the FBI has already questioned several people regarding a meeting between the Flynn's and Turkish Government representatives in mid-December at the 21 Club in Manhattan. At the time, Flynn was just weeks away from starting his new role as Donald Trump's National Security adviser.

MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The next president of the United States right here.

BROWN (voice-over): And in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria conducted before the Wall Street Journal story broke and air in Sunday, the Turkish prime minister denies any deals were ever made with Flynn. But hope Flynn's previous work for the Turkish Government would help win an extradition.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: Had Michael Flynn provided you with any assurance that it would happen?


BROWN (voice-over): At this point, it's not known if a deal was reached or whether money was exchanged for this proposed plan of forced extradition. The December meeting follows revelations of related discussions months before.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey was part of a meeting in September with Flynn and Turkish officials about potential ways to get Gulen back to Turkey to face charges.

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: 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 hold of Gulen.

BROWN (voice-over): At the time, a spokesman for Flynn denied there were any talks about physically removing Gulen. Erdogan has blamed a failed military coup attempt in July last year on Gulen who was been living in exile at this compound in Pennsylvania.

PRESIDENT TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKEY: (through translator): Extradite this man in Pennsylvania to Turkey. If we are strategic partners or model partners, do what is necessary.

BROWN: Flynn's attorney Robert Kelner released a rare statement saying, "Today's news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn ranging from kidnapping and bribery that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule, they are false."

Flynn Jr.'s attorney did not provide a comment.

Meantime, Flynn is also in hot water for not disclosing his lobbying work for the Turkish Government during the presidential campaign where he took around $500,000. He has restoratively registered as a foreign agent -- Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


VANIER: All right. This is a complicated story, lots of facets to it. Earlier, I spoke about this with Ileana Johnson (ph). She is a national politics reporter for Politico.


ILEANA JOHNSON (PH), POLITICO: This is disturbing on a number of levels if it's proven to be true. But clearly if it is true, this is somebody who had several severe lapses in judgment that didn't become apparent until he had eluded many, many checks in terms of security clearances and so on.

VANIER: We know this is somebody, Michael Flynn, who had a lobbying activity going on in favor of Turkey and he had written an op-ed for Turkey, was certainly pursuing the Turkish government objective of securing the transfer and deportation of the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, back to Turkey. Now that said, even though he had this lobbying activity, if he went

to that meeting and that meeting did indeed take place, which his lawyers say didn't, and that deal was offered to him, if he didn't take it, then no foul, right?

JOHNSON (PH): It's hard to speculate on this sort of thing but what we can say with certainty is this is all the sort of thing that should have been disclosed to the Trump national security team.

And we know now that is, at the very least, this lobbying activity was not disclosed by Flynn. He left it off his security clearance forms and he just simply was not transparent about it. So what we can say now, without knowing more is that he -- there was a --


JOHNSON (PH): -- real lack of transparency on his part, which doesn't help when there are now additional and far more troubling allegations.

VANIER: There is an important thing to point out. None of this for the moment bears any direct connection to the president, at the time the president-elect, Donald Trump.

JOHNSON (PH): That's right but I do think if these allegations bear fruit, this gets very, very dicey for the president because this is somebody who he chose to serve in his administration, who did actually serve in his administration and who was then cast out of his administration because of a separate lapse in judgment.

It certainly casts doubt on the president's judgment and on what he has boasted as his ability to bring in the best and the brightest minds.

VANIER: OK, I was going to ask you about that. Now in Mr. Trump's entourage and campaign teams, at one point or another, there were multiple individuals who had connections to foreign countries or who were doing lobbying, favoring foreign countries. We just talked about Michael Flynn; of course there was also Paul Manafort and his activity, past activity for Ukrainians.

Is that something that's typical?

Or is it that Donald Trump was perhaps unlucky with who he surrounded himself with or just reckless in his picks?

JOHNSON: Certainly among top national security professionals, the contact with foreign governments is run-of-the-mill normal. The lobbying activity is not normal and I think it's actually a product, certainly during the Trump campaign, of how few foreign policy professionals were willing to associate themselves with Donald Trump.

He really was forced to stretch outside the range of the typical American foreign policy professional, many of them signed a letter saying he was unfit for office and he was forced outside of the mainstream Republican and Democrat foreign policy community to people, like Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort. Paul Manafort, for example, had not worked on an American campaign

since Bob Dole's campaign in 1996 and before that since Gerald Ford's fight for the delegation in 1976. So these were not people who were the inner circle of American political campaigns.


VANIER: Embattled U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore still has the support of one of his strongest allies. That's former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. Moore is under fire for alleged sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl many years ago. Now he denies the allegations, calling them completely false and misleading. Here's what Bannon said on Friday night in his defense.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP CHIEF STRATEGIST: I think you're going to find in the mainstream media, either tonight or tomorrow, I think there's going to be some pretty interesting stories about how that information got dropped and who paid for it and who weaponized it, right?

The -- you know, it's -- is it just a coincidence that the Bezos- Amazon-"Washington post" did the Billy Bush hit and they did the hit on Judge Moore?

Yes, just a complete, complete random thing in the universe, right?

So I think you'll see tomorrow. Look, like what Donald Trump has said, when I stand with a man, I stand with him right?

And I told Trump that day, you got 100 percent chance, just focus on what's important. Until I see additional evidence on Judge Moore, I'm standing with him.


VANIER: All right, despite that support, Moore's path to the U.S. Senate seems to be growing more difficult as two more Republican senators have withdrawn their endorsements. Here's the latest from CNN's Alexander Marquardt.



ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If anything can be said about Roy Moore's supporters, it's that they're fervent and loyal.

Drawn to him in spite of a controversial past, his values-based campaign centered around Christian beliefs is popular and is reddest of red states. And that loyalty now still strong despite these new bombshell allegations.

Supporters unnerved, but so far, unwavering. At Merrill's BBQ, Dottie Finch works in the kitchen. She says she doesn't believe Moore had that sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl or pursued other teenagers. And even if proven true she says, she'd still vote for him.

DOTTIE FINCH, ROY MOORE SUPPORTER: I still would support Roy Moore because I feel as if that's happened in the past.

MARQUARDT (on camera): Even if he was inappropriately touching a 14- year-old girl?

FINCH: If he went to the Lord whatever and asked for forgiveness for that and hasn't done anything like that since then, I believe that the good Lord's forgiven him as a Christian, I have to forgive him also.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Moore has slammed the accusations as a liberal conspiracy to thwart his campaign.

MOORE: It's obvious to the casual observer that something's up. We're also doing --


MOORE: -- an investigation and we have some evidence of some collusion here, but we're not ready to put that to the public just yet. This is a completely manufactured story meant to defraud this campaign.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): And Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, now head of Breitbart News had been one of Moore's most prominent backers. Comparing the Washington Post story to the Access Hollywood tape unearthed during the campaign.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP'S CHIEF STRATEGIST: If you saw the way they came after him like they're coming after Judge Moore today, this is not -- they didn't debate, you know, policy or politics. This was the politics of personal destruction, right?

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Alabama's state auditor went so far as to call the allegations, quote, much ado about nothing. Take Joseph and Mary he said. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.

And like Jesus, Moore's brother told CNN on Friday, the judge is being persecuted. J. Holland works for the county's Republican Party and has known Moore for decades. He thinks Moore could lose a few votes, but come Election Day, the turnout will be strong.

MARQUARDT: Do you think there's any chance he drops out of this race?

J. HOLLAND, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, ETOWAH COUNTY GOP: No, no, you don't know Roy Moore. He is a fighter. He -- if you got to have somebody in a foxhole with you, you want Roy Moore.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MARQUARDT: The big question now that his supporters are asking is why now?

Why are these allegations only coming to light, 40 years after the fact?

Do these women have -- are they waging a smear campaign against Roy Moore just weeks before this election?

Are they being put forward by the Democrats?

Are they being put forward by establishment Republicans like Mitch McConnell?

But most Roy Moore supporters want to see right now is more proof, more corroboration, but until then, they want to see Roy Moore staying in the race and they believe that he can win -- Alexander Marquardt, CNN, Gadsden, Alabama.


VANIER: Accusations of inappropriate conduct have gone from show business to politics and now to the world of sport. One of the highest profile women football players is sharing an incident involving the sport's most powerful man. We will have details in just a moment.

Plus a political crisis deepens in Lebanon. How Hezbollah says Saudi Arabia is trying to start a war. Stay with us.




VANIER: The departure of Saad Hariri is fueling a political crisis in Lebanon. Hariri said he was resigning as prime minister last week. Now he made the announcement in Saudi Arabia. He condemned Iran and Hezbollah. Lebanon's president has demanded Hariri's return and Hezbollah accuses the Saudis of stoking conflict. Our Ben Wedeman has more from Beirut.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's been seen meeting with Saudi and Emirati officials and Western diplomats. But more and more back in Lebanon, they're wondering about the true status of Saad Hariri, who resigned as prime minister a --


WEDEMAN (voice-over): -- week ago, from Saudi Arabia.

Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah says he knows. In a speech Friday afternoon, he said Hariri's resignation from Riyadh was made under duress and that he's being held against his will.

And it's not just him. A senior ministerial source in Beirut tells CNN he believes Hariri is not free to express himself or to move about and he says that Hariri's own political bloc, the future movement, has no idea what is going on with their leader.

He hasn't given an interview to anyone, not even his own television station in Beirut. No one seems to know when or if he'll return home. And the longer his status remains a mystery, the more jittery nerves here become.

In a speech, Nasrallah, closely aligned with Iran, accused Saudi Arabia of inciting Israel with the enticement of billions of dollars to attack Lebanon. But he warned Hezbollah is stronger than ever and cannot be destroyed.

The U.S., which until now has publicly supported the ambitions of 32- year-old Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, threw out a warning to all in the following statement from secretary of state Rex Tillerson.

"The United States cautions against any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country."

It's not at all clear, however, whether U.S. friend or foe will heed Tillerson's warning -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.


VANIER: Another high profile entertainer has been accused of sexual misconduct in a "New York Times" report. And comedian Louis C.K. says all the allegations contained in that report are true. Five women told "The Times" that the comedian acted inappropriately, including fondling himself in front of them.

He released a statement saying that he is remorseful and trying to learn from his actions. The distributor of his new film, "I Love You, Daddy," says it won't release the movie. A limited release had been scheduled for next week.

And here's another one, this time in the world of sports, where FIFA's former president, Sepp Blatter has had to deny accusations of sexual assault made by one of football's most high-profile female players.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo said Sepp Blatter grabbed her bottom as they were about to go on stage in an awards ceremony in 2013. This according to the Portuguese newspaper, "Espresso".

A spokesman for Blatter told "Espresso" that the allegation is ridiculous. Solo says she is speaking out now because remaining silent will not change the game's rampant sexual harassment problem, according to the report.

Coming up after the break, New Delhi gasping for air as dangerous smog blankets the region. Stay with us. (MUSIC PLAYING)



VANIER: A dangerous smog in India's capital is expected to last until sometime next week. New Delhi has declared a pollution emergency, banning trucks and construction activity. One government official described the city as, quote, "a gas chamber." You can see for yourself. Hospitals have been treating thousands of patients with respiratory ailments.



VANIER: And thank you very much for watching us here on CNN. I'm Cyril Vanier, I will be back with the headlines in just a moment.