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Trump Praises Duterte, Ignores Human Right Questions; Trump On Russian Meddling: "I'm With Our Agencies"; Former U.S. Intel Chiefs: Trump Being "Played" By Putin; Will Alabama Voters Stand By Roy Moore?; Senate GOP Leader: "I Believe The Woman" Accusing Roy Moore. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 13, 2017 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Twelve days, five countries, two political hacks, one liar, a short and fat dictator and for the finale a tweet storm. It's been a busy tour of Asia for President Trump. He's in Manila for one more day.

And there is a new controversy or controversies that he is facing. Was the issue of human rights discussed with the Philippines President Duterte? Seems straightforward but, no, it depends on who you ask. Then there's this --


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What I said there is that I believe he believes that and that's very important for somebody to believe. I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election.


BOLDUAN: Does President Trump believe the intel community or Vladimir Putin when it comes to Russia's meddling in the 2016 election? Again, seems straightforward but no, once more.

Let's try to get some straightforward answers right now. Let's go over to CNN's Sara Murray. She's traveling with the president as we speak. Sara, first on human rights it's a huge issue when it comes to the Philippines. Was it discussed or not?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it is a huge issue here in the Philippines. Duterte has been here presiding over what has been a bloody drug war, one that has raised alarms among human rights activists, who say that thousands are being killed without going through proper judicial proceedings.

And so, it should be a relatively simple answer, did it come up in the president's meeting with Duterte or did it not? Duterte's side says that human rights did not come up. It was not brought up during this meeting.

The White House is insisting something different. A White House spokesperson and in an official statement insisted that human rights were on the agenda and at least briefly discussed. So, two conflicting versions of whether this very important issue came up at all.

BOLDUAN: And once again, it seems when it comes to Russia, Sara, I mean, where exactly is the president today on what has been a settled question here, at least among the intelligence community since January?

MURRAY: This has been another sort of shifting issue on this trip, right? We heard President Trump sort of suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted he didn't meddle in the U.S. elections. Trump seemed to insist he believed him and then later came out and said no, no, in fact, this is what Putin believes but I am siding with the U.S. intelligence community.

It was not a very impressive answer, according to some former U.S. intelligence officials. Listen to what they said.


JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process and to try to paint it in any other way is I think astounding and, in fact, poses a peril to this country.

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I think he's giving Putin a pass and I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and to try to play upon his insecurities.


MURRAY: Now Kate, there are plenty of foreign policy experts who agree with President Trump that you have to be able to work with Russia on other issues, whether it's Syria, whether it is North Korea. But the alarms we're hearing from analysts, the alarms from former intelligence officials, is they don't necessarily believe that President Trump is taking the fact that Russia meddled in our U.S. election in 2016 very seriously. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: There's got to be a way to do all of it, to actually believe what happened and also still, try to get some help from Russia on these key issues that you're talking about. Great to see you, Sara. Thank you so much.

Joining me now to discuss this and much more, Samantha Vinograd, CNN national security analyst, and former National Security Council adviser under President Obama. Steve Hall is here, national security analyst, retired chief of Russia operations, Sue Mi Terry, the former North Korea analyst at the CIA and National Security Council, David Sanger, CNN political and national security analyst and national security correspondent for "The New York Times."

Great to see all of you. Glad I have the brady bunch here because we got a lot to get to. So, Samantha, what does it mean first and foremost talk about the human rights bit, the huge bit, what does it mean that the White House says that the -- that the president brought up briefly human rights offenses or in discussion with the Philippines and Duterte's people said it wasn't brought up at all. What is your read there?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: My read is setting up a meeting with Duterte in the first case was a huge mistake. Presidential meetings are often used as a reward for good behavior and now looks like President Trump is condoning thousands of extrajudicial killings at the same time Duterte made offensive comments about the media which Trump just took on board. This was a know your boss moment.

President Trump didn't confront Putin about a direct attack on the United States. So, I don't see how Trump's advisors thought that he was going to go into this meeting and confront Duterte on human rights abuses.

BOLDUAN: Do you think it -- what does briefly mean? I mean, in your world does it mean it wasn't brought up? I mean --

VINOGRAD: It could mean a lot of things. We have the same issue come out of his meeting with President Putin. We now have conflicting accounts about whether the president did or did not confront a foreign leader about horrific misbehavior.

[11:05:04] BOLDUAN: David, there's also this other big issue, this is a major issue, the issue of trade. At the very same time we have the 11 nations that had been negotiating with the United States over that very large trade deal, TPP, they appear to be moving ahead now without the United States involved. Reaching agreement on a framework over the weekend. What does that mean for the United States and the tail end of this trip?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the initial concept for TPP was that it was to isolate China act because, of course, China was the only one outside it.


SANGER: Once the U.S. dropped out, it became the isolate the United States act, and the Chinese took advantage of that by beginning to go negotiate individual deals with other Asian countries. What we didn't hear from the president was what he was going to replace this with. What framework he had in mind other than the pullback to the borders?

I think that's what everybody was looking for. So, at the moment that they all announced that they were going to move ahead with TPP, I think it sort of heightened or at least made clearer than ever before the degree to which the U.S. was isolated.

One quick point on the Philippine meeting, you know, the United States always says we don't talk about human rights in public because this is much more effective in private, so you may recall that four or five months ago, there was a leaked transcript, came from the Philippines as it turned out, of the first phone conversation between President Duterte and President Trump.

And we went through the transcript and there was no mention of the human rights issues, other than the president saying, well, you're getting your handle on the drug issue, you know, we need that kind of help in the U.S. He's getting a handle on it by doing extra judicial killings in the streets.

So, given the leak of that piece of transcript, it was all the more important for the United States to make clear what its message was to President Duterte today. So, whether they discussed it or not, you never heard from the White House what the U.S. position is about these extrajudicial killings going on in a major treaty ally of the United States.

BOLDUAN: That's an excellent point. As the president returns, Donald Trump is promising a big announcement on trade and North Korea when he gets back to the United States. I have a couple questions on that. What do you think that could be and also, if it's a big announcement, why wait until Wednesday when he's back from his trip? What's your read?

SUE MI TERRY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: Well, I think the big announcement might be that we, the United States, is going to relist North Korea on a state -- on the state sponsors of terrorism list. I'm not sure why he waited. I thought maybe when he meant with the abducted families in Japan that might have been a good place.

But I think it's a good thing to put North Korea back on the state sponsor of terror list. There's extra pressure on North Korea. They are very sensitive about it. I think there's a legal justification to do so based on North Korea's treatment of past assassination attempts on North Korean human rights activists and defectors.

The way they treated Otto Warmbier. The way they killed -- Kim Jong- un killed his half-brother in a major airport using banned WMD or the cyber-attack attempts, their effort on Syria, chemical weapons, helping Syria. So, there's plenty of justification. This is another way to pressure the Kim regime.

BOLDUAN: Let's see exactly what that announcement is first. Steve, then there is the whole issue, the whole Russia element of this trip. It seems to be trying to -- it seems the president, I don't know, is trying to take both sides again on this issue of Russia's meddling in the election.

Telling reports aboard Air Force One that he believes Putin when they have their conversation, he believed Putin when he says he didn't do it, but then later saying that what he meant was that he believes that Putin believes that he didn't do it. What does this mean, Steve?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the reason we're struggling with what it means is because it's entirely incoherent. You can't have it both ways. You can't say that the intelligence community and the director of CIA, Mr. Pompeo, who President Trump himself put in that job, you can't say that his assessment is right because his assessment is that yes, there was an attack on the elections last year.

And then at the same time say, but I believe when Putin says that he believes that he didn't do it. I mean, that implies that Putin doesn't really know what's going on in Russia. I mean, that's ridiculous.

So, you know, this is -- it's just a lot of incoherent muck that's very difficult to get through and I think what it indicates is that President Trump is trying to do some things with Russia, sort of by the seat of his pants which is sort of his style.

That's a very, very dangerous thing when you're dealing with a guy like Vladimir Putin who sees things really strategically. I'd also push back on this general idea that we -- there are some things that we really need to get right with Russia so that we can, you know, I don't know, work on Syria or North Korea.

[11:10:09] In fact, Russia is the problem in a lot of those situations. It's a very western plight, can't we get along and find something to corporate with Russia on things. Putin counts on a guy like Trump thinking that and Americans believing there's something to be accomplished.

In fact, we don't need Russia to accomplish a lot of the things that we need to do vis-a-vis North Korea, Syria or even Ukraine, which is another thing that Trump ludicrously mentioned, we need to work on Russia on Ukraine. I mean, Russia is definitely the problem in Ukraine. So, there's lot of stuff going on, a lot is very difficult to make sense out of.

BOLDUAN: Well, one of the things -- I mean, there was some interesting, I thought, some interesting clarity that came over the weekend, Samantha, when the president went back to his familiar refrain that this is all Democratic excuse for losing the election and then slammed the former CIA director, DNI and FBI director.

And then both Brennan and Clapper came on CNN together, to push back on this, and to say -- give their thoughts on it. What is also important, as they push back, was that his own CIA, Donald Trump's own CIA put out a statement this weekend saying that Director Pompeo stands by the intelligence assessment, the intelligence assessment put out January 2017, by all of these guys?

VINOGRAD: President Trump's comments show either a blatant disregard or misunderstanding for how the intelligence community works. Intel officers sign up to serve their country. They don't change out when an administration changes.


VINOGRAD: Someone like John Brennan has served under three Democratic presidents as well as three Republicans. And President Trump politicizing the intelligence community is just doing President Putin's job for him. Putin's goal is to sew divisions in the united states and undermine our institutions and President Trump is doing exactly that. BOLDUAN: The thing about the Putin problem is it didn't end in 2016. We got 2018, 2020 coming up. That problem is only continuing. Great to see you guys. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, denials, a threat, and a mission to discredit an alleged victim of sexual abuse all now part of the battle for a Senate seat in Alabama if you can believe it. So, what are the voters on the ground saying? We will go there live.

Plus, shocking new report on the death of a Green Beret. A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist calls it the most disturbing story he's worked on in 15 years. He's joining us coming up.



BOLDUAN: This just in, Senator Rand Paul injured in the assault outside his Kentucky home nine days ago, he now says he will be returning to the Senate today. On Twitter writing this, the Republican senator said, "Kelly and I want to thank everyone once again for your thoughts and prayers, for my recovery.

And while I'm still in good -- a good deal of pain, I will be returning to work in the Senate today, ready to fight for liberty and help move forward with tax cuts in the coming days and weeks."

You will remember, Paul suffered six broken ribs after allegedly attacked by a neighbor. That neighbor pleaded not guilty last week to misdemeanor assault, and there are a whole lot of conflicting stories and questions about what exactly led to the doesn't. None of that going away. But good to hear that the senator is going to be -- able to return to work today. We'll have more on that as we get it.

Also, this, heal, sue, a defiant Roy Moore is fighting back against "The Washington Post" and on-the-record claims of sexual misconduct 40 years ago. Listen.


ROY MOORE, ALABAMA REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: "The Washington Post" publicized another attack on my character reputation, in a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign. These attacks involve a minor child are completely false and untrue, and for which they will be sued.


BOLDUAN: Where does this go from here and what are the voters in Alabama saying? CNN national correspondent, Jason Carroll is in Alabama following all of this. Jason, what are folks on the ground telling you?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, as always, you've hit the nail right on the head because what this does ultimately come down to is what the voters think. We've heard from state representatives, many of whom have been saying, look, Roy Moore should stay in this race.

We've heard from those on the national level who say he should pull out. We spent all day yesterday, Kate, and part of last night speaking to voters here in the state of Alabama and one thing is clear, these allegations have really solidified where people stand.


CHARLES BROWN, ALABAMA VOTER: I'm going to compare a man of God who has done everything, ever since I've known he existed, I didn't know him when he was 32. He's done everything he said he would do in politics which nobody else I know has. And I'm going to compare him with a girl who had a sordid reputation, even in high school, and, you know, we forgive and all that, and that notwithstanding but whose word am I going to take? It's not even a close call.

JORDAN BROWN, ALABAMA VOTER: I'm not planning to vote for him. That's where I'll leave it at this time. Not planning to.

CARROLL: But it sounds like you're on the fence a bit?

BROWN: I really like his opponent. I kind of like the policies a little bit. And I don't know Roy Moore feels like a little bit more of a show, as opposed to an actual, you know, legitimate, honest, trustworthy candidate.


CARROLL: And Kate, the show is that voter called it will continue. One point that voters on both sides of this issue seem to agree on is the timing.

[11:15:07] Many people who support Roy Moore, many of those who do not support Roy Moore, at this point feel as though the timing of these allegations is suspect. Roy Moore for his part digging in his heels, Kate, saying he has no intention at this point of pulling out -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jason, so important to hear from voters on the ground. Thank you for bringing that to us. I really appreciate it.

With me now to discuss this, Alice Stewart, CNN political commentator, former communications director for Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, Keith Boykin, CNN political commentator and former Clinton White House aide, and Steve Rogers, a member of President Trump's Reelection Advisory Board. Great to see all of you. Thanks so much for coming in.

Alice, more Republicans we heard from on the ground I will get to that in a second but more and more Republicans we are hearing over the weekend saying it is time for Roy Moore to step aside. The White House, though, seems to be leaving him some room. This all does what?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It causes a great deal of confusion. Look, let me just say this, I started out when this first came out trying to give the judge the benefit of the doubt saying let's wait and let the facts play out as they may. And as he has talked about this and he was doing an interview the other day, he had the opportunity to categorically deny the serious allegations and he didn't do it. He said that that's not generally his character or not generally known.

He didn't categorically deny the serious allegations and right now Senator Toomey has said in my view, this story, these accusers, their accusations outweigh his denials in my book and I think that is a serious problem.

I think it is up to the voters of Alabama to make the decision, but in the end, when it comes to party principles outweigh a victory here and I think we all need to take a step back and look at what is in the best interest for this party.

And in my view, it would be best with all of this going on if he were to step aside and let's have a write-in candidate in Alabama, someone that will have principles above a political outcome.

BOLDUAN: Someone else is talking about party and principles is Charlie Dent, Congressman Charlie Dent, retiring, a moderate from Pennsylvania. He spoke out this morning to John Berman. Listen to what he said, Steve. Listen to this.


REPRESENTATIVE CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: We just cannot be branded by individuals like this. It's times like this that the leaders of the party have to step up and do what's right. We should be much more concerned about the brand of this party when it's going to be stains by somebody of -- stains by somebody of this caliber and Mr. Moore.


BOLDUAN: Does he have a point?

STEVE ROGERS, MEMBER, DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT INC ADVISORY BOARD: He has a point. You know what, Kate, the party is caught between a rock and a hard place here. Only Roy Moore knows if he's innocent or guilty and we have to lean on the side of a person is innocent until proven guilty. I'm interested that he's suing "The Washington Post" --

BOLDUAN: We don't know if he's going to sue. We also know someone who has threatened many a lawsuit or too many a media organization and hasn't followed through.

ROGERS: That opens up everything that will lead down a path of evidence. But look, I've said before, for the good of the party and the good of the country, it may be prudent to step down. That doesn't mean I'm saying he should because I still believe in the process, but I think that's why the White House gave him a little room.

BOLDUAN: I mean, I guess forget what we all have to say, Keith, it's all about the voters when it comes down to it at this moment, right. Jason Carroll played us sound of some folks he met with over the weekend. I want to play more sound of what other folks have been saying on the ground, voters in Alabama. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a country based on justice and on a person's innocent until proven guilty and that stuff needs to sort itself out.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to vote for him because I'm a Democrat, but I've known him a long, long time. The thing that bothers me about those charges is that he's been in public life, running for many offices, and many times as this happened, no one has ever said anything until now. And I don't think it examines from any place -- it comes from any place except Washington.


BOLDUAN: All right. Let's get to that in just one second. I got breaking news as we were listening to just that. Bring this to you right now as I'm reading it for the first time. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the top Republican in the Senate, he's speaking out about the Roy Moore allegations moments ago.

Senate majority leader saying he believes the woman who accused Roy Moore of a relationship when she was underage. The senator saying, I think he should step aside. He told this to reporters in Louisville, Kentucky, I believe the woman, yes. He says they are looking to see if a write-in option could be successful.

That's a -- that is a very major statement coming from -- I mean, backstory, Mitch McConnell did not support Roy Moore at all. He supported Luther Strange. So, did the president in that primary, but what does this mean, Keith?

[11:25:10] KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, clearly there is no -- there is bad blood between the two of them and the moment the story first broke, Mitch McConnell said that Roy Moore should consider withdrawing, but he had never said he actually believed the allegations until now.

So, I think that's a major development. What's happening here is damaging to the Republican Party brand at the worst possible time. They just lost the elections. They were practically crucified last week.

BOLDUAN: I guess as we were just listening to the voters, they don't care what Mitch McConnell has to think.

BOYKIN: Yes. And that's troubling too because, you know, the base of the party is not necessarily in step with the leadership of the party. You have people like the Alabama state auditor who's out there saying comparing Roy Moore's behavior to that of Mary and joseph, the parents of Jesus.

That's just reprehensible for people who call themselves the party of moral majority and values and family values. You can't continue to defend pedophilia and child molestation of a U.S. Senate candidate and expect to be considered a viable political party.

BOLDUAN: Alice, I want to get your takes on this, this news, Mitch McConnell coming out and saying that they should consider a write-in candidate and that Roy Moore should step aside and he believes the woman now. The impact of that in this whole ongoing conversation?

STEWART: I think it's significant in that we need to have more people step up and do the same for the good of the party. Look, as Keith said, this is a black eye on the party if we don't have people take principled stances on this and do the right thing.

Look, if Roy Moore really truly believes he is innocent in this, then he should fight on and he should move forward. But I think many people are starting to see that there is a lack of credibility in some of the responses that he's had to the questions he's been asked on this.

For the good of the party we need to look at the character, we need to look at principles and put that far above any political implications here. No, his name cannot be taken off the ballot. We need -- it would have to be a write-in candidate.

At the end of the day, it's up to the people of Alabama to decide and if they can convince them this is a war against Roy Moore based on the fake news and GOP establishment and the Democrat opponents, then many people in Alabama probably will believe that and probably will vote for him.

And right now, it is tied neck and neck with he and his Democratic challenger. He may be able to pull this one off, but right now I think for -- we need to look at what's best for the party and I think Speaker McConnell was dead on in his statement.

BOLDUAN: Speaker McConnell speaking out does that increase the pressure the president needs to speak out? The White House to this point has said he hasn't really been aying attention, he's been overseas, but look no further than his Twitter feed today he's talking about a lot of domestic issues, announcing a new HHS nominee, tax reform and Obamacare and not talking about this.

BOYKIN: Kate, what's best for the party and the country is for Mitch McConnell to keep quiet and I will tell you why. First of all, where's the evidence and facts. If down the road and I would never want to see this happen, if anyone else, including Mitch, was accused of something, do we get on tv and say, well, you know, I believe the accusers. Let the process work out. That's the problem with our party.

ROGERS: I'll agree, the problem with our party is, these people -- the swamp monsters are jumping in on what should be a judicial process.

BOYKIN: Your president who you support is the chief purveyor of this.

ROGERS: I'm not going to accept that on national tv. He is not a chief purveyor. He is the commander in chief of this --

BOYKIN: But you know he spent 5 1/2 years spreading a lie about President Obama with no evidence and now you're saying that we should wait for more evidence before we -- before we draw conclusions. Yes, I agree --

ROGERS: Whether we move forward --

BOYKIN: Let me finish. We should have evidence, an orderly process, but let's start by having a president who respects the rule of law. And you don't have the authority, the moral authority, as a Trump supporter to say that when you're defending a guy who routinely disrespects the rule of law.

ROGERS: We have a president who does respect the rule of law, he took an Asian trip where the world leaders respect this man and a good part of this country respects him. He got elected. He's (inaudible).


BOYKIN: We're only here to talk about the bad things about the president.

BOLDUAN: I did an entire segment talking about part of the Asia trip. You know that.

BOYKIN: You've been fair. look, you've been fair.

BOLDUAN: When it comes to Mitch McConnell, no matter what you think of Mitch McConnell, does this now increase the pressure that the president will have to say something about this?

ROGERS: I don't think so. I think the president said what had to be said and that was let the process work. You know if the man is guilty we're going to find out and he has to step down.

BOLDUAN: Who is the burden of proof on right now? I've heard from Republicans, you know who needs to provide more proof he's innocent after that interview that he did on Friday saying that well when it comes to dating teenagers that's generally not in my normal behavior and not customary --

ROGERS: Two perspectives, the burden of proof is always on the accusers but a man once said to me --

BOLDUAN: This is not a court of law. I'm not asking you guilty or innocent in a criminal case. I'm asking you should he be a United States senator?