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Roy Moore Vows to Sue Washington Post; Trump White House Differ with Duterte Camp on Topic of Meeting. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 13, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So, Spooner gets back on the train. She learned a group of young men found her wallet and promised to return it. So what does she think? Spooner thinks she's never going to get her wallet back, right? Take a listen to this, though.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The young men came and knocked on my door and returned my wallet with everything in it. Everything. Money and all.


CUOMO: Look how shocked. Asia Spooner. You know, she's got kids, she's got bills. She needed that money and these kids found it, and what would you do? You found a wallet stuffed with cash?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Ask yourself really after about that.

CUOMO: What would you do? These kids gave it back. They did the right thing. Thank you for being the best of us.

HARLOW: We needed that "Good Stuff" this morning.

CUOMO: Right?

HARLOW: All right. Good to be here.

CUOMO: Always.

HARLOW: Time for "NEWSROOM" with John Berman. Have a great day.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. John Berman here.

New this morning, he is going to sue or so he says. A woman goes on the record to claim that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore molested her when she was 14. Three other women go on the record to say he pursued them when they were in their teens and the response from Roy Moore is to threaten a lawsuit against the newspaper that told their stories.


ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE NOMINEE: Another attack on my reputation and desperate to stop my political campaign. These attacks are completely false and untrue and for which they will be sued.


BERMAN: Those are Roy Moore's words. Leigh Corfman's words are, "I wanted it over with, I wanted out," when she says Moore touched her over her bra and underpants when she was 14 years old.

More Republicans are saying her words are compelling enough that Moore should drop out but President Trump not one of them, not yet.

CNN's Kyung Lah in the hometown of Gadsden, Alabama.

Kyung, what are you finding down there this morning?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, we're hearing a couple of different responses. We are certainly hearing support for Judge Moore. That people say they do believe that this is a conspiracy. That this is a political smear. That they are still standing by his side. But we are also hearing people saying, come on. There are a lot of people who support this "Washington Post" story. That there had been rumors around the edges regarding Mr. Moore and there have been questions about some of his past and his behavior.

All of this happening while on the national level there have been calls for him to step aside. Here's what we heard this weekend from a Republican senator from South Carolina.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, certainly the allegations are very, very strong. The denial was not as strong as the allegations. I think if the allegations are true, there's no doubt that he should step aside and not for the party, but for the American people. We have to find a way to restore trust and confidence in our elected officials in our government and this goes in the wrong direction.


LAH: President Trump this weekend asked whether or not he had any direct comment by reporters regarding Judge Moore. He said that he hasn't seen too much about the Moore controversy.

The Trump camp, though, going a bit further. Here's what we heard this weekend.


MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: There's no Senate seat more important than the notion of child pedophilia, Chuck. I mean, that's the reality. But having said that, he has not been proven guilty. We have to afford him the chance to defend himself.


LAH: So the big question in all of this, John, what is the impact on December 12th? What will voters here in Alabama decide in regards to Judge Roy Moore? We've spoken to at least two women, two Republican women, who say they once supported Moore and they don't any more -- John.

BERMAN: It will be interesting to see if that trend continues going forward. It will be interesting to see if Moore follows through with his lawsuit threat, as well.

Kyung Lah in Gadsden, Alabama, thanks so much.

Joining me now Lauren Fox from CNN Politics, Amber Phillips from the "Washington Post" and CNN political analyst Alex Burns from "New York Times."

And Lauren, I want to start with you here. Tim Scott's words were very interesting because he seemed to indicate that he believes Leigh Corfman, he believes the three other women. We heard the same thing from Bill Cassidy. He said he doesn't need to wait to find out if true, which is a formulation a lot of people were using and we heard the similar thing from Pat Toomey over the weekend. Let's listen to that.


SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: It's a terrible situation. Nearly 40-year-old allegation. We'll probably never know for sure exactly what happened. But from my point of view, you know, I have to say I think the accusations have more credibility than the denial. I think it would be best if Roy would just step aside.


BERMAN: So as far as Washington Senate congressional Republicans are concerned, Lauren, they seem to be pushing Roy Moore on to an island here.

LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, certainly, and I think that they recognize that if Roy Moore doesn't get out of this race, it is going to be a topic of conversation for the next several weeks until this special election.

[09:05:08] And a lot of Republicans are not interested in going ahead and having to answer questions about Roy Moore every single day from here until Christmas. And I think one of the questions that we have to remember is that if Roy Moore loses this race, that's one problem. If he wins, these questions are going to continue when he is one of their colleagues in the U.S. Senate.

BERMAN: So, Amber, you know, we heard from Marc Short, you know, Kellyanne Conway had similar language over the weekend where she said if the statements are true, she condemns them. But she does think that Roy Moore has a right to defend himself. The White House is not pushing Roy Moore on to this island which, in effect, is giving Roy Moore some cover for now.

How long will or can that continue? Will it last after the president returns home?

AMBER PHILLIPS, POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, we have to wait to see. The president very clearly said when he was talking to reporters abroad this weekend, I'm not going to comment on that beyond my public statements from White House officials until I get back. It almost sounded like he's trying to decide whether he's going to stick by Roy Moore and give him cover, as I think you accurately describe it, John, by saying these allegations happened a while ago.

You know, a couple allegations shouldn't ruin one man's life. That's what Sarah Huckabee Sanders is sort of pressing right now. I think the president almost seems undecided if he's going to continue down that line of thought or side with the Pat Toomeys and Mitt Romneys and Bill Cassidys and Tim Scott's of the world by saying, oh, these allegations will never probably prove them, but they're really, really tough allegations for the Republican Party to stand by. He's got to go.

BERMAN: Look, not taking a position, for now, is actually taking a position. The White House may change. The president may change in the coming days, but the position they're taking right now is a statement in and of itself.

Alex Burns, a history lesson here Roy Moore says he's going to sue the "Washington Post." I'm old enough to remember when then candidate Donald Trump suggested he was going to sue the "New York Times" for its article last year during the campaign that had allegations of sexual harassment against him, as far as I know, those lawsuits never happened.

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, they didn't. And this is sort of, I think, an unfortunate trend in the way campaigns gets wage. Lawsuit threats are now treated as just an especially strong form of denial when in reality it's an attempt to intimidate publications and intimate women from coming forward and other accusers from coming forward in situations like these.

I think talking to Republicans in Washington they have not heard anything from Roy Moore over the last few days that has given them confidence that the allegations are false or that this is a guy who is in a position to right his campaign. His interview with Sean Hannity on Friday was deeply disturbing to a number of Republicans I spoke to and basically everything he has said since then has reinforced among Republican leaders in Washington the sense that they may just have to write this one off.

BERMAN: And Alex, Breitbart sent a couple reporters down to Alabama presumably to shore up Roy Moore and their first publication in some ways actually seemed to support Leigh Corfman's story. They say that the "Washington Post" approached her.

BURNS: Yes. This is sort of an extraordinary spectacle in some ways that you have a publication that is often treated as, you know, certainly a partisan or ideological publication but a news organization all the same basically announcing that they are going to send down people who are described as reporters to discredit sources in another publication's work. And they didn't do anything of the kind and virtually everything that was in the Breitbart report was actually started in the original "Washington Post" report.

The "Washington Post" I think ought to be lauded for its transparency in laying out exactly how the story came together put to rest any questions in the minds of their minded readers about how the story came together whether this was orchestrated by Democrats. It clearly was not.

BERMAN: Again, I think the next big statement comes from the president himself when he chooses to address this head on.

I want to shift gears right now to perhaps the White House race for 2020 because former Vice President Joe Biden he all but declared his candidacy this morning on the "Today" show. Just I want you to listen to this.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: If the Lord Almighty came down and sat in the middle of the table and said, Joe, the nomination is yours but you have to take it now, I would say no.


BERMAN: I would say no. So, Amber, he's definitely running.

PHILLIPS: Yes, that's basically, right, a politician saying, oh, no, I wouldn't say no now means, yes, I'm probably going to run later on. Right? We know that in politics.

Listen, Joe Biden feels like there's an opening for him and his particular brand of politics. He said, you know, if he had run in 2016, he would have done it as kind of a Bernie Sanders' style. These weren't his words exactly. But what I took from it is a Bernie Sanders campaign against Wall Street and he'd also focus on some social issues that seem kind of off to the side like cancer.

I shouldn't call that social issue, I apologize, but, like, scientific issues that are very specifically Joe Biden focused.

BERMAN: Right.

[09:10:06] PHILLIPS: I think he senses that the Democratic Party hasn't really found its ground after the 2016 campaign and losing to President Trump. And that he feels like he can sort of bring in this establishment Bernie Sanders-esque voice to the party.

BERMAN: He can bring in youth and energy as "Saturday Night Live" might say into the campaign.

Lauren, let me play you the second half of what he said because while he said he would not run if the election were today and God offered him the nomination today he would say no, this is what he says about next year.


BIDEN: We're not closing the door. Look, I've been around too long. I mean, I'm a great respecter of fate and -- but who knows what the situation is going to be a year and a half from now.


BERMAN: It actually sounds to me, Lauren, like if the election were held today, he would not run. And that he just doesn't want to close the door because he doesn't have to close the door. It really doesn't sound like he's planning to get in, Lauren.

FOX: Well, absolutely. You don't have to decide on whether or not you're going to run for president in 2020 until you get much closer to the race than you are right now. Currently, I think Joe Biden is comfortable where he is, speaking out on issues that he cares deeply about like cancer research and what, you know, could be done on that front.

And I think the vice president is very comfortable or the former vice president is very comfortable being there right now and I don't think, you know, he wants to continue doing interviews where he's constantly asked, are you going to be running for president in 2020? And certainly that's what we all want to know. That's the question on everyone's minds.

BERMAN: Every interview he does from here on out he will be asked what he is doing in 2020. I don't think he's going to foresay that at all.

Can I ask you a question about trade? Since I know you're, you know, an international trade expert right now?

BURNS: Indeed.

BERMAN: Look, one of the first acts the president did was pull the U.S. out of the TPP, the Transpacific Trade agreement. Just this week when he was in Asia, all those other nations that were part of that deal basically went forward with their own plan right now and there are those that suggested it will leave the United States behind.

The president's promise he's going to make some kind of statement Wednesday on trade. He continues to push the United States on its own path. The rest of the world going in a different path. I wonder where the politics of this will be going forward.

BURNS: Well, this is a big test for one of the central premises of Trumpism and of his campaign platform. He didn't say, I'm going to get elected president and make the United States a fortress state. Right? He said, I'm going to -- I get elected president and get better deals than we have right now. So if we're out of TPP, then what is the better deal?

That's sort of the big question for him to answer going forward and I do think politically when you look at the elections last week, when you look at the map of races up in 2018, a lot of these are in states that benefit enormously from trade and from international commerce of various kinds.

When you have people who are -- when you have candidates in his own party who are going after those agricultural states that benefit from an export economy and suburban voters who work, many of them, at non- American companies, these are big questions for those folks.

BERMAN: Alex Burns, Lauren Fox, Amber Phillips, thank you very, very much.

This morning conflicting reports on what exactly President Trump discussed with the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. The White House says the two talked about ISIS, illegal drugs, trade, and, this is key, human rights. Under the cover of the drug war Duterte is accused of encouraging thousands of killings without trials in the Philippines but Duterte's camp says despite what the White House says human rights did not come up during the conversation.

CNN's Sara Murray live in Manila with a he said-he said -- Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Look. Obviously, President Trump has not made human rights a huge focus on the world stage, but this is a little bizarre because we see both sides disagreeing on whether the issue was brought up. Now a spokesperson for the Philippines president said the issue of human rights did not arise. It was not brought up. But a White House spokesperson provides a different account saying human rights briefly came up in the context of the Philippines' fight against illegal drugs.

John, as you pointed out, Duterte has been waging a particularly bloody drug war here in the Philippines, one that has risen a lot of concern among human rights activists who say thousands are being killed without going through the appropriate judicial process.

Now this was just a portion of their meeting today. At one point journalists tried to ask these two world leaders questions including about the drug war and Duterte seemed to be taking a page out of President Trump's book as he took a swipe at the press, saying that you guys are spies.

Now all of these took place, and yet there was another sort of lighter moment that played out at the ASEAN summit today and that was when there was this family photo. This is traditional of these summits, John. You've seen it 1,000 times but somehow President Trump has yet again managed to make news with a handshake.

They all went in for this cross body handshake. Trump seemed to be fumbling around trying to make it work, not quite sure what was going on. He nailed it eventually, but some pretty humorous images coming out of that summit -- John.

BERMAN: Wait. Let's wait for it, let's wait for it. Let's wait for it. Let's wait for it. There it is. All right. In the president's defense, I think that is a very --

MURRAY: Come around eventually. BERMAN: That is a very awkward contortion there. You know, almost --


MURRAY: It's a tricky handshake. It's a tricky handshake.

BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray, in Manila, thanks so much.

The president's words posing a peril to the United States. That's a provocative charge to begin with, even more so because those words come from the man who used to run U.S. intelligence. We are talking about the fallout next.

Plus, "No Moore," a growing number of Republicans turning against the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama. We will speak with one of them.

And new disturbing details from the scene of a deadly attack on U.S. troops.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether I believe it or not, I'm with our agencies.


[09:20:04] BERMAN: The president clarifying his remarks that really seem to put the word of Vladimir Putin over that of U.S. intelligence. He says he believes U.S. intelligence as it is currently constituted, which is a big hedge.

Earlier as he was gushing about how much President Putin believed he did not meddle, he attacked the people who used to run the U.S. intelligence agencies as political hacks. Two of those men responded on CNN.


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 -- 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 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.


BERMAN: All right. Joining me now Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, CNN military and diplomatic analyst, and Steve Hall, CNN national security analyst, former CIA operative. Steve, I want to start with you because James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence says that the way the president framed this whole thing poses a peril to our country. Is that fair and, if so, how?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's absolutely fair. I mean, first of all, for the record I served with both Brennan and Clapper and you know, these guys are not political hacks. Between the two of them, they have a half century of intelligence experience.

If you're looking for somebody who is politician look at the guy who is currently in the job, Mr. Pompeo, you know, who comes from Congress. So, yes, there is no doubt that Trump's comments, I think, did a lot of damage.

And, you know, Brennan had an interesting point when he said, you know, our foreign allies and what he's referring to is not just our political allies, but also our intelligence relationships with allied intelligence services look at how he's behaving with Putin and say, geez, what's going on here?

Can the United States be trusted? And that is, indeed, a perilous thing. The other perilous thing is leaving the impression with Vladimir Putin that he can essentially control Trump using his ego and other, you know, manipulative skills that he learned as an intelligence officer.

So, I think both Clapper and Brennan, you know, hit it right on the head, hit the nail on the head in their description of the situation that we have now between the president and Russian President Putin.

BERMAN: So, Admiral, to the point that Steve was just making about John Brennan, John Brennan said that he believes that President Trump can be played by foreign leaders. His willingness to accept the word of Vladimir Putin shows he can be played. Is that too strong of a statement?

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Not at all. Not at all. I mean, people who are the leaders know that he can be flattered and wowed by pomp and circumstance. So, they kind of pat him on the head with those big red-carpet ceremonies.

And while they're putting him on the head, they're expanding their influence and they're undermining the multilateral systems that the United States has led the way for so, so many decades.

Look at Putin and what he is doing in Ukraine and get away with in Syria and certainly now his interference in the North Korea problem, not to anybody's benefit, but to Russia's. Look at Xi now, he has now personalized his being with that of the Communist Party's Constitution.

And China is definitely on the rise, both from a military and economic perspective and the last thing they want is United States interference or any additional interference in the region. Look at Duterte, he's killed somewhere like 4,000 people since July alone in his drug war, he pats Donald Trump on the head and gives him a big red carpet blow out when he arrives in Manila in the hopes that there is not going to be any interference from the United States in what he is doing to his own people.

BERMAN: Steve, going back to Mike Pompeo, you said, of course, you know, he was in Congress. Now he is director of the CIA. The president made that hedge where he says he believes U.S. intelligence as currently constituted hinting that he didn't believe it before.

People on the inside, though, how do they see partisanship and the management of the intelligence agencies. Do they see the intelligence agencies swinging like a pendulum to a Republican administration and then back, again?

HALL: You know, for the most part, no. I mean, during my career, I served both under Democratic presidents and Republican presidents. And, you know, the intelligence community is used to the way our system of government works. It really is very apolitical situation.

That said, you know, the current situation with President Trump is abnormal in a lot of different ways. One of those ways is the partisanship and the specific frictions, if you will, or tensions with the intelligence community.

Remember, it wasn't so long ago that the president was making illusions to Nazi Germany when he was talking about CIA and other parts of the intelligence community and it was just a couple weeks ago when the president instead of accepting, as he recently said that he did, accepting the finding of the intelligence community with regard to Russian meddling.

[09:25:07] He invited a conspiracy theorist over to CIA, asked Director Pompeo to meet with him. This is Mr. Dingy, former NSA officer to talk about weird ideas that it wasn't the Russians that hacked the DNC. It was perhaps the Democrats hacking themselves.

So, the impact on analysts who spend their entire careers focusing and they do excellent work focusing on Russia and other things and they see this. They've got to be kind of scratching their heads as they drive home at night saying, what's going on here? Is my analysis, you know, taken seriously? I think it's a growing concern.

BERMAN: You know, Admiral, you brought up the president's meeting with Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and brought up the fact that human rights certainly wasn't in the forefront, if it was on any front at all.

But, look, there is a history of U.S. presidents in some ways nearly every U.S. president looking past human rights at some point in dealing with leaders of other countries. I mean, every time you sit down with a leader in Saudi Arabia, you have to look past human rights to an extent.

KIRBY: I actually disagree, John. I don't think you look past it. That certainly wasn't my experience working both at the Pentagon and the State Department. We never look passed it. You always bring it up. You certainly bring it up privately when there's a case to be brought up and even perhaps publicly if it's warranted in front of the cameras.

What stuns me about this, Duterte folks say it didn't come up and the White House folks say it came up briefly. The way I read that is they talked about the drug war and slapping that as a band aid on there for having to bring up the human rights things.

You can't talk about the human rights in the Philippines without talking about the drug war. Like talking about the Super Bowl without talking about football. They go together. It should have been made more strident.

Again, thousands of people have been killed in the Philippines at the hands of Duterte under the guise of cleaning up drugs on the streets, and I think it's woeful that this administration wouldn't be more of an advocate of human rights.

And the other thing, John, is publicly discussing, saying you did it privately and publicly saying that is really important because it sends a message to the rest of the world, not to mention a message to the American people about what we'll stand for when we conduct foreign policy abroad.

BERMAN: Also the people of the Philippines. Admiral John Kirby and Steve Hall, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

This morning, the back and forth between President Trump and North Korea continues. This after the president says he has hopes of a friendship with Kim Jong-un, whom he referred to in passing as short and fat.

CNN international correspondent, Will Ripley, the only tv journalist reporting from inside North Korea.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, here in North Korea just watching the back and forth over the weekend between North Korean state media and the president of the United States truly surreal. But that is the reality of the situation right now.

You had North Korean media in their leading newspaper continuing their attack on the president showing all these pictures of anti-Trump protesters in South Korea. Well, unsurprisingly failing to mention that the larger crowds were actually in support of the U.S. president.

Then there was this from North Korea's news agency, KCNA, saying, quote, "The reckless remarks by a (inaudible), which translates to old senile person like Trump, "can never frighten us or put a stop to our advance."

And that was followed up from the tweet from the president himself saying, quote, "Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me old when I would never call him short and fat. Oh, well. I try so hard to be his friend and maybe someday that will happen." Well, no official response yet to that tweet from the president or to his remarks in Vietnam where he hinted at the possibility, once again, of a friendship with North Korea's leader. But the sense I get from officials, unofficially, don't hold your breath on the friendship part.

They say they've listened to what the president has said and they've heard enough. Everything from the threat to totally destroy North Korea to his nickname for their leader, "Little Rocket Man," and they point to the fact that there are joint naval drills, large-scale military exercises happening in the Pacific right now involving three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups.

This is something that North Korea has long viewed as a dress rehearsal for an invasion. They are listening very closely to see if President Trump will announce by the end of this visit as he has indicated he would whether to add North Korea back to the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

A list that they were taken off of nearly a decade ago during negotiations back then about North Korea's nuclear program. We all know how that turned out -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Will Ripley for us in Pyongyang. Will, thanks so much.

Drop out, that is the message from a growing number of Republicans on Capitol Hill as the Alabama Senate candidate fights accusations of molesting a 14-year-old girl. I'll speak with one of those Republicans, next.