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McConnell Believes Moore's Accusers; Ex-Intel Chiefs Say Putin Played Trump; Trump Criticizes Kim Jong-un. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 13, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Watching CNN.

And we begin with the unequivocal call from the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell against the controversial Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. There are no longer any ifs, ands or buts from the leader of Senate Republicans. Today, McConnell said Moore should drop out of the Senate race because he, Mitch McConnell, believes the woman accusing Moore of sex abuse from nearly 40 years ago when she was only 14. McConnell is also siding with the three other women who say Moore pursued them when they were mere teenagers and he was in his 30s.


QUESTION: What's the latest there? Are you calling for him to step down from that Senate race?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Yes. I think he should step aside.

QUESTION: Or do you believe these allegations to be true?

MCCONNELL: I believe the women, yes.


BALDWIN: However, Roy Moore is now in his fourth day of flat-out denying these allegations, and he is threatening to sue "The Washington Post" for publishing this bombshell report just a month before the Alabama Senate race.


ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Three days ago "The Washington Post" published another attack on my character reputation in a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign. These attacks (INAUDIBLE) involve minor child (INAUDIBLE) completely false and untrue. And (INAUDIBLE).


BALDWIN: Let's start up on Capitol Hill with my colleague, our senior Washington correspondent, Brianna Keilar.

And so starting on the Senate majority leader here. What are his options for this Alabama Senate race? Will he endorse a write-in candidate?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really not up to Mitch McConnell. And so he mentioned that, Brooke, that they're looking at this idea of the success -- the potential success of a write-in candidate, but that really is up to the state party to decide. So at this point in time, you're seeing Mitch McConnell clearly distance himself. He's had now days to look at Roy Moore and see how he's responded to the allegations. And so Mitch McConnell is one of now a growing number of Republican senators. And, of course, he's the most important Republican senatorial voice. And he does speak for the conference.

But he is joined as well by Senator Susan Collins, who just a short time ago tweeted out that after having listened to Roy Moore and his denials and his radio interview, she says that the denials are not convincing and that he must withdraw.

But again, this really comes down to the state party because this is a December 12th general election. The state party can decide whether they invalidate his nomination, which would mean -- because he's going to be on the ballot no matter what. There's no getting around that. He's on the ballot.


KEILAR: But if votes are cast for him, if his nomination is invalidated, then really they wouldn't count. So it's really all eyes on the Alabama state party and also on the White House. How's the White House responding to this, Brooke? Because they're still saying the "if true." You know, "if true," he should step -- he should step out.


Well, we're going to go to Alabama and see how Alabamans are feeling about this here in just a second.

Brianna Keilar, thank you so much, up on The Hill for us.

You know, as we have noted, the statute of limitations has passed. This will not see the inside of a courtroom. So it really comes down to, who do Alabama voters believe? And that might have a lot to do with why Roy Moore is choosing to stay in the race.


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 -- he went to the Lord, whatever, 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 as many times as this happened, no one's ever said anything until now. And I don't think it comes from any place except Washington.


BALDWIN: Roy Moore's wife has now weighed in on the controversy engulfing her husband, calling the allegations a, quote, witch hunt, saying the Washington establishment and Democrat Party will stop at nothing to stop their campaign.

My next guest is someone who sides with Roy Moore. He is Brandon Moseley from "The Alabama Political Reporter," who just wrote an opinion piece on why he believes Roy Moore.

Also with me, John Hammontree, managing producer of Reckon by

So, gentlemen, welcome.



BALDWIN: Brandon, let me just begin with you. You know, I obviously read your piece a couple times over and you staunchly stand by, you believe in Roy Moore, not these female accusers. Tell me why.

[14:04:57] MOSELEY: I've known Roy Moore. I've known Roy Moore for 20 years. I've covered his, you know, campaigns. I mean, I live in the county. I live in St. Clair County, which is next to Etowah County. I think if this was a serious -- I -- you know, if these allegations were out there and they were serious, I probably would have heard them. But understanding that most people have not actually met Roy and don't know him personally, we're still talking about 38 years ago. We're talking about something that's past the statute of limitations.



BALDWIN: Let me jump in. Hang on. You use of the word "serious." Why don't you think these allegations are serious?

MOSELEY: They're 38-year-old allegations. This is a -- this would be a misdemeanor at the time under the code of Alabama. The statute's been up since '86.

If you go back and you don't elect anyone who's ever done anything wrong, you know, we wouldn't have had Barack Obama. I think he did cocaine. Bill Clinton supposedly smoked marijuana.


MOSELEY: They weren't eliminated from the ballot because of past sins. BALDWIN: We're talking about allegations involving the current Senate candidate in Alabama.

And, actually, let me just -- let me stop you on some of your facts because let's function in a factual world.

One, you know, let's go back to where you addressed the most troubling allegation, the one involving, at the time, the then 14-year-old. And sexual consent, just so everyone's on the same page, sexual consent in Alabama is 16. And you acknowledge that sexual contact with a 14-year- old would have been illegal and would be considered sexual abuse by the books today.

But, Brandon, you know, you make this argument that there wasn't a law against sexual abuse in Alabama back in the '70s. So I just want to -- let me ask, are you saying that because there wouldn't have been a law -- according to you -- that that would have made it OK back then?

MOSELEY: No, I'm not. I mean if Roy Moore committed a sin, that's a sin and that's not good. But we're not talking about an actual crime here under -- that's prosecutable in 2017. I don't think you throw out 35 years of a man's career and his reputation because of an unsubstantiated allegation from 1979 that can't be proven either way.

BALDWIN: Brandon, she was -- she was -- she was 14 years of age. And I don't know how much digging you did or didn't do into the law in 1979, but we did, and we found Section 13A, 667, we found that this was on the books going back to '77 and would have been considered sexual abuse in the second degree. Care to respond?

MOSELEY: Which is a misdemeanor in Alabama if I'm correct.

BALDWIN: Does that make it OK?

MOSELEY: No. But again, if, you know, Roy Moore had stolen a lawn mower when he was 21, that's bad, but that's not a reason 50 years later to all of a sudden, you know, throw him off the ballot or let Mitch McConnell pick the next senator of Alabama.

BALDWIN: Sexual abuse, stealing a lawn mower, let's not even go there.

Let's -- you know, you believe Roy Moore's account, Brandon, and you want to believe the best in Roy Moore. Is it odd to you that he has not come out against these allegations point by point, line by line, accuser by accuser? Instead just shouts, fake news and Democrats, when, let's all keep in mind, this, you know, now grown woman, then 14-year-old, is a Republican and voted for Donald Trump.

MOSELEY: The only accusation that would be a serious crime was that of the 14-year-old, whether he gave alcohol to an 18-year-old when the alcohol age was 19 in Alabama. Again, the one that matters is the 14- year-old complaint because that would be the most serious offense. It's become basically Leigh Corfman's word versus Roy Moore's and Corfman's account is different than the other accounts. In the other accounts, Roy Moore dated some of these women, supposedly, as long as three months and they never got naked. According to Corfman, supposedly Roy took off her shirt and her pants and there was some inappropriate touching.

BALDWIN: Right. On -- on Roy Moore. Set this correct.

MOSELEY: That's not a good thing. That's nothing to be proud of.

BALDWIN: You started the conversation. I'm just trying to understand how you're feeling. You started the conversation saying you have known Roy Moore for years and you believe him.

Now, you know, I don't know if you've even met the president of the United States and I'm just curious, and for the sake of conversation, you know, did you believe the sexual harassment and assault allegations against President Trump during the campaign?

[14:10:15] MOSELEY: I believe that President Trump probably, at some point in his life, has acted inappropriately with women. He's had three marriages, multiple mistresses. I still voted for Donald Trump. I mean, as a Christian, I can forgive a past indiscretion. Certainly one that's, you know, not a crime, you know, at this time.

BALDWIN: If you knew these women --

MOSELEY: I don't see where that's grounds to say --

BALDWIN: If you knew these women, Brandon -- I understand. If you knew these women, do you think your opinion of these women and their allegations would be different?

MOSELEY: If I knew these women, I would be glad to pray, you know, that they, you know, for them and for their families, but I still don't think that we should abandon Roy Moore and vote for Doug Jones or some write-in candidate because of accusations from 1979.

BALDWIN: I'm -- as a journalist, I mean I know you leave this piece saying you don't normally opine, although clearly, you know, you are in this case. Why didn't you call these women? You know, as journalists, we like to hear both sides of the story. You have Roy Moore's side of the story and you've only read these women's side of the story. You are there on the ground in Alabama. Why not call them, hear them out and report on that side of the story in your piece?

MOSELEY: "The Washington Post" had already done the story. They had, you know, their accounts. Reporters with (INAUDIBLE) reporter I think have tried to contact some of them, but we've had no success. I was not assigned to -- by my editor to seek out these women for their accounts. But I've heard -- you know, I've heard whatever "The Washington Post" put out or anybody else has put out. I have seen it, heard it or read it.

BALDWIN: Just as a journalist --

MOSELEY: And I still believe Roy Moore.

BALDWIN: Sure, sure, sure, sure. I understand you believe Roy Moore. But don't you think you should have a well-balanced view before you put out there, as I think you, you know, you call yourself an objective journalist, though clearly you've made your decision in this race. Why not pick up the phone and call these women?

MOSELEY: Well, I -- ideally, these charges would have come out six months before the election and we would have had time to go out and interviewed the women, interview all the various stuff. But this all broke Thursday in "The Washington Post." We're talking about it here on Monday as to whether Roy Moore should drop out of the race today or not.

Based on everything I know at this point, and like I say, I've tried to research these women and their backgrounds as much as I could in the hours between that revelation and now --


MOSELEY: I still believe the best choice for the people of Alabama is to elect Roy Moore on December 12th.


Brandon Moseley, thank you for the conversation.

Let me bring John Hammontree in to just ask this. First, you know, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that there is this possibility of a write-in candidate. Do you have any idea who that might be, John?

HAMMONTREE: No. The GOP chairwoman, Terry Latham (ph), came out today and warned against any Republican in the state coming out and endorsing a write-in campaign. Now she could change on that stance later. But right now it doesn't -- you'd be hard pressed to see Luther Strange being the write-in candidate considering how unpopular he was during the primary. And I don't want to speculate on who else might throw their name into the ring. But it's hard to see his name coming off the ballot.

I do want to follow up on what Brandon said. I mean we've had a chance to go into Etowah County and talk to many of the people there and we have not found yet a single thing -- and I don't believe that a credible news organization within the state has found a single thing to refute the stances that have been made in "The Washington Post." As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today, there's not a reason yet to not believe these women.

BALDWIN: That's why I was asking him if he picked up the phone or had gotten a hold of them, or at least tried to.

John, I appreciate you very much. John Hammontree and Brandon Moseley, thank you so much as well.

Coming up here on CNN, who does President Trump believe when it comes to Russian meddling in the U.S. election? Does he believe U.S. intelligence or does he believe Vladimir Putin himself?

[14:15:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.


BALDWIN: This as two former intel chiefs say President Trump is getting played by Vladimir Putin. We'll discuss that.

Also today, a stunning development. These two Navy SEALs being investigated over the death of an Army Green Beret overseas. "The Daily Beast" reporting that those SEALs had a secret they were trying to keep until their story started to unravel.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: And we're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

President Trump is back-peddling somewhat over remarks he made concerning Russia's meddling in the U.S. election. At first President Trump said he took Russian President Vladimir Putin at his word when he said Russia did not interfere in last year's election. President Trump's remarks seem to suggest that he believed Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies. Here is what he's saying now.

[14:20:21] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.


BALDWIN: But in the president's remarks prior to that, he also slammed the people who used to run the U.S. intelligence agencies, calling them political hacks. Two of those men now say the president got played by Putin.


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 -- 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.


BALDWIN: Let's talk this over with CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio, a Trump biographer, and also with us, Lindsay Moran. She's a former undercover CIA operative. So great to have both of you on.

And, Michael D'Antonio, starting with you. You know, the president continuously praised how he was treated on this trip. Quote, it was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever seen. Roll out a red carpet, you know, praise President Trump and, bam, he's on your side. Is that how it works?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, DONALD TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: Well, pretty much. And, you know, the thing that he probably liked the most was that unlike in the past before he was president, he didn't have to bring the red carpet with him. He used to fly around in his airplane with a red carpet for that very purpose.

You know, this does get into the realm of the ridiculous where he doesn't seem to be focused on the interests of the United States, in the case of these comments about whether he believes what Putin says or believes that Putin believes what Putin says. He's really placing his relationship with the Russian leader ahead of his relationship with the American intelligence community and he's placing it ahead of U.S. interests internationally.

The key thing here, as we all know, is that Russia did try to get involved in our election. The plot seemed to be hatched at the very highest level, that Vladimir Putin had to know this was going on. And now he's lying, if what Trump says is true, directly to our president. So this is all kind of theater of the absurd. But I guess where the president is concerned, if he gets a red carpet like nobody's ever seen, then he's happy.

BALDWIN: Lindsay, do you think Trump is getting played by Putin?

LINDSAY MORAN, FORMER UNDERCOVER CIA OPERATIVE: I do think he's getting played by Putin --

BALDWIN: You do.

MORAN: And I think we've watched this play out over a number of months. Putin is a career, seasoned intelligence officer. And what intelligence officers do are they look for people's vulnerabilities. They look for people's motivations. They look for targets. They try to exploit those vulnerabilities and motivations to their own ends. And I think we've watched that happen. We've seen what an easy target President Trump has made himself to Vladimir Putin. It's a very personal and almost intimate relationship here.

BALDWIN: Michael, back to you.

You know, President Trump had a relatively good trip until the end when he went off on his Twitter feed. There was the, you know, the seventh grade tweet about Kim Jong-un. Here is the tweet. You know, especially as President Trump has this big announcement upon returning from, you know, this Asia trip, what do you make of this, these words?

D'ANTONIO: Well, he's talking about being everybody's friend, eventually almost like he's having a fight in the school yard. But when the fight is over, they're going to hug it out. And, you know, I think this must be baffling both to the North Koreans, but also to our allies around the world wondering whether this president means what he says and says what he means. I'm also struck by his affinity for strong men and politics of strong men with Duterte in the Philippines.

BALDWIN: Does that surprise you? Right, right, and Xi.

D'ANTONIO: No, not at all, though it's -- it's depressing. You know this is a guy who seems to embrace a leader in the Philippines who's carried out ex-judicial killings in the thousands.

[14:25:05] BALDWIN: Yes.

D'ANTONIO: Duterte is playing Trump where China is concerned. He's playing Trump where Russia is concerned. This is a game I'm not sure he understands at all.

BALDWIN: And then in that same sentence, Lindsay, President Trump raises the possibility of a friendship with Kim Jong-un.

MORAN: Right. And I think, you know, we can kind of chuckle about this to a certain extent, the president trading these sophomoric barbs with Kim Jong-un. But really from a --

BALDWIN: It shouldn't be funny.

MORAN: It shouldn't be funny. And it's actually not funny. I mean from a national security stance, the instability that he is presenting to the world, he's presenting to the world America as a ship with no one at the helm or with someone very unstable at the helm. We, as our intelligence services look to foreign leaders and we look for signs of their psychological instability so that we might exploit those for our own ends. And I have no doubt that that's what our enemies are doing.

So President Trump's behavior, while you can kind of laugh about it, it's got to be troubling to our allies and our enemies and to us.

BALDWIN: And to us.

Lindsay Moran, thank you.

Michael D'Antonio, a pleasure.

Coming up here, not closing the door. Former Vice President Joe Biden responding to speculation over a possible 2020 presidential run. Why he says he knew Hillary Clinton was going to lose a month before the election.

And back to our breaking story today. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore's wife now weighing in on the controversy involving her husband, calling the allegations a witch hunt.

Back in a moment.