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Trump Team: Moore Should Drop Out if Allegations are True; Trump Meets with Philippines President. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 13, 2017 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: There are investigations going on. There will be revelations about this article.

[05:59:27] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roy Moore threatening to sue the "Washington Post" over allegations of sexual misconduct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roy Moore has to do more explaining. Having said that, he has not been proven guilty.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: It's just really a matter as to whether he ought to be the standard bearer of the Republican Party. I just think he shouldn't be.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever received.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sarah Sanders telling reporters human rights briefly came up. A spokesman for Duterte saying otherwise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump exchanging insults with Kim Jong- un but saying it'd be nice if they were friends.

TRUMP: Strange things happen in life, but it's certainly a possibility.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It is Monday, November 13, 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off. The one and only Poppy Harlow by my side.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Good to be here.

CUOMO: Good to have you. And once again, you bring news. Here's our starting line.

A defiant Roy Moore now threatening to go sue "The Washington Post". That's the paper that reported that the Alabama Senate candidate had an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old girl and pursued three other teens when he was in his 30s.

Now, Moore has always denied the accusations. And some are now trying to discredit his accusers.

You have several members of President Trump's team now calling on Moore, however, to step aside if the allegations are true. But that is a very vexing situation. There will probably be no trial. I don't understand, and the reporters that are going at it right now, what more proof will there be. So we're watching this.

The president, as you know, is in the Philippines. He says Asian countries have rolled out the red carpet for him like never before. The president said he will make a major announcement Wednesday on trade and North Korea. But this morning, there are co conflicting reports about whether he and the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, talked about human rights and that country's bloody war on drugs. The White House says they did. A Filipino spokesman said they did not.

HARLOW: All of this as the president raises eyebrows over the weekend, apparently siding -- you heard it -- with Vladimir Putin's denials of election meddling before then trying to backtrack that. Meantime, two former U.S. intelligence chiefs slamming the president for downplaying Russia's role, saying the comments put our national security at risk.

And on Capitol Hill, the tax reform battle is front and center once again. Republican leadership admitting most but not all middle-class Americans will get a tax cut.

We have all the developments covered this morning. Let's begin with our Kyung Lah. She joins us in Alabama on the Moore campaign controversy. And now, Kyung, a threat coming from Roy Moore at the reporters who broke all of this.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A very direct threat this morning. An indication that Moore is digging his heels even deeper as the criticism is growing. But he remains buoyed by some support here in his home state.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOORE: These attacks that I was involved with a minor child are completely false and untrue and for which they will be sued.

LAH (voice-over): Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore defiant, threatening to sue the "Washington Post" for publishing allegations that he pursued romantic relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s, including a sexual encounter with a 14-year- old. The controversial former judge suggesting he is investigating his accusers.

MOORE: There are investigations going on. In the next few days, there will be revelations about the motivations and the content of this article. LAH: Led by former Trump adviser and Moore supporter Steve Bannon,

conservative media outlet Breitbart News also attempting to discredit Moore's accusers, publishing an article Sunday claiming the mother of accuser Leigh Corfman says reporters from "The Post" pursued her daughter, convincing her to speak out against Moore. "The Washington Post" acknowledging they approached the women, who then chose to give interviews after the reporter heard about the allegations while reporting on Moore's supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No Moore! No Moore! No Moore!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No Moore! No Moore! No Moore!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No Moore! No Moore! No Moore!

LAH: Moore blasting the allegations as a political conspiracy as backlash grows on Capitol Hill. Many Senate Republicans abandoning the Alabama Republican, refusing to raise money for his campaign, and revoking their endorsements.

SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I think the accusations have more credibility than the denial. I think it would be best if Roy would just step aside.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We have to find a way to restore confidence in our elected officials and in our government, and this goes in the wrong direction.

LAH: Some signaling support for Senator Luther Strange, who Moore defeated in the primary, as a possible write-in candidate. But back home in Alabama, many of Moore's supporters rallying around the candidate.

JACK FLOYD, FRIEND OF ROY MOORE: 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 it's happened, no one's ever said anything until now.

LAH: White House officials cautioning against judging Moore before he's being proven guilty while condemning the alleged behavior.

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR: There's sense (ph) more important to the nation than child pedophilia, Chuck. I mean, that's reality. But having said that, he has not been proven guilty.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Everybody should know that conduct is disqualifying. But I also want to make sure that we, as a nation, are not always prosecuting people through the press.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[06:05:06] LAH: Now, the president was asked about Moore on Air Force One this weekend. He told reporters, quote, "I don't know much about it." And then he added, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that he doesn't watch much television -- Chris, Poppy. CUOMO: All right, Kyung. That is probably the easiest statement to

vet this morning. We know the president watches a ton of TV, often this show, and we welcome his viewership.

All right. Let's discuss this. We have CNN political analyst John Avlon and CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish.

All right. So the first thing to deal with here, John Avlon, in the state of play, is the idea that this is going to be unsatisfying. This is a "he said, she said." It will remain that. There's not going to be a trial. There's not going to be a prosecution. So calls for more proof, where can that lead?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think you need to look at the reporting. You need to look at the number of accusations, the sourcing. And then take a look at Roy Moore simply attacking the press, because it's in his self-interest to do so.

This is a tactic that Donald Trump basically institutionalized. If there's inconvenient information, disqualifying information, play offense: go after the accusers. Go after the women, as some outlets have disgracefully done. And go after the press in general to create enough confusion so that your base rallies around you.

CUOMO: You're saying it's not wrong to vet the accusations? You have to do that.

AVALON: No, no, no, no. Vetting accusations is entirely appropriate. But there's also a dishonorable time-honored tradition of going after women who have the courage to speak up. And there's a difference between vetting accusations to make sure it's accurate and trying to demonize women who have the courage to come out and speak out.

HARLOW: Michael Smerconish, ultimately, it's going to be the people of Alabama who decide if Roy Moore should hold this seat in the Senate. And then it's going to be up to the senators in both parties to decide whether they are going to do what they can to expel him if he wins.

But what has been revealing, I think, is the number of reports out of Alabama from local reporters on the ground, to our reporters on the ground, of so many folks in Alabama, even some Democrats who don't -- didn't vote for Roy Moore but who do not believe this one bit, because it comes from the mainstream media, from "The Washington Post."

We heard one Moore supporter said this: "This is a Republican town, man. Moore could have killed Obama, and we wouldn't care."

How do you see it?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, HOST, "SMERCONISH": And so, Poppy, to that end, he is threatening legal action. But I think it's really largely a political defense. I don't believe that Roy Moore will file a defamation suit. I say that as an attorney who has litigated defamation actions. And if he does file the suit, I don't believe he'll ever follow through with it. Because a defamation action, by its nature, is one where you are asserting the rights to your good reputation have been foregone.

And that puts everything in play, in particular a case like this, where he would be subject to a deposition, he'd be subject to interrogatories and requests for admissions on the most invasive subjects imaginable. It might be a tactic that's designed to forestall any more women coming forward. Because they, too, then would have the knowledge that they would have to tell their story not to a "Washington Post" reporter but to an attorney and someone taking a deposition transcript. So I don't see it happening.

CUOMO: Well, also let's be clear about context here, also. Michael, let's stay with you on this, in terms of what this is about. The idea of, well, we have to wait. It's too early. It's just not going to happen here.

HARLOW: Wait for what?

CUOMO: This is all it's going to be on. And there is a standard of proof in a trial. This is not a trial. This is about elections.

Mitt Romney made that point, saying that "I already know enough for political purposes." And obviously, that is a good situation to play with, depending on who you want to advantage in this situation.

But the big stick that Moore's supporters have, Michael, is timing. This guy has been vetted time and again. He's run for office time and again over decades. None of this ever came out until now. Is that enough for people to say, "Yes, you know what? It would have come out sooner if it were true?"

SMERCONISH: Well, I think that's a legitimate question. I think it's absolutely valid to say here's a guy who's been on the public landscape for 40-ish years, and never before have you heard these charges. What I think is incredible is when Steve Bannon says, "Well, you know, it's the 'Washington Post,' and they're the folks who gave us the revelations about the 'Access Hollywood' tape."

Well, the "Access Hollywood" tape really happened.

And Chris, I look at this story, a three-person-byline story. And I don't suit up in partisan armor as a Republican wanting to defend Roy Moore or as a Democrat, you know, wanting to believe with "The Post." I look at it with a critical eye. There's a tremendous amount of detail in this story from all of the women that "The Washington Post" claims as its sources. I don't think that any fair reader of this story can so easily discount it and say, "Well, it's all bunk because of the source."

[06:10:00] HARLOW: Thirty sources, four women that did not seek out "The Washington Post." John Avlon, so Breitbart, Steve Bannon's publication, going down there. And look, reporters should always work to find the truth and to verify things.

However, it's bizarre some of the headlines coming out of Breitbart, saying, to Chris's point earlier, "We don't believe these women, but we believe the mother of the 14-year-old victim in all this, who said, well, she didn't have a phone in her room and, therefore, this all doesn't hold water."

AVLON: Yes, look, it's not bizarre that Breitbart's headlines would -- would run counter to basic facts. They have a hyper-partisan agenda they are pursuing. And they will do anything to pursue it, and it's at at the behest of Steve Bannon.

HARLOW: But at the cost of children?

AVLON: Well, I think they would say that they believe they are in the midst of a massive culture war and, in war, anything is legitimate, deploying, you know, trolls after critics and enemies. I mean, they have approached media and politics as an extension of the same war from the beginning. It's an incredibly dangerous thing they've done.

But so they do not hold themselves to a standard of accuracy or fairness. Also, look, it's interesting that they're down there digging, and the best they've come up with so far was--

HARLOW: Is that.

CUOMO: -- the reporters came to these women and convinced them to go on. Yes, that's probably exactly true. That's what "The Washington Post" put out there, Michael.

And it makes their accounts, in my estimation, more compelling. You know, I mean, look, we've all had to do this. You know, Poppy is one of the best bookers in the business. When you have to get somebody to come on, and they don't want to do it, you have to talk to him about the value of this story and why it's so important. I think that actually plays against their narrative of it would have come out before now. You see that women are obviously reluctant, and now we're seeing proof of why accusers are so reluctant in this situation.

AVLON: And you've got media right now. You've got mainstream outlets, and you've got, you know, hyper-partisan online outlets who are actively functioning as part of a hyper-partisan agenda rooted in the White House. That's incredibly troubling. I mean, right. Let's not gloss over that. Former senior adviser to the president of the United States is running a media outlet that is trying to pursue that agenda. That in a different universe.

CUOMO: And also, look, this is being played -- one, one thing is very clear. And I've seen this since this story came out. People didn't read "The Washington Post" story. They heard what the accusations are in general. They've seen people pick it apart, being timed to be just useful to opponents of Moore. But they didn't bother to read the piece. If you didn't bother to read the piece, you're not really into this about the facts. You're into it about your feelings. Politically, this has been politicized, Michael.

Let me ask you something, though. How does this end, in your estimation? Because I don't see how the truth of this gets advanced by any kind of process. SMERCONISH: I want to make two points. No. 1, relative to Breitbart,

what I expected to see when I saw the headline, we're talking about the mother of the then-14-year-old. I expected to see, based on the headline, that mom would say this didn't happen. That is not what the story said.

HARLOW: Right.

SMERCONISH: As you just pointed out, all that the story says is that the "Washington Post" reporters were aggressive in pursuit of the story.

How does it end? I think the next 48 hours are going to be critical. Critical insofar as do any other women come forward and tell a similar story? And if they don't, then I think people will continue to believe what they already believe about Moore, that he's a good guy or a bad guy, and that it really won't move the needle all that much.

CUOMO: And do more Republican senators who endorsed him back away from that endorsement? They have the cover of saying "If the allegations are true and this process will never go forward." So that's good enough, political hedge.

AVLON: And did they learn from President Trump's election that you shouldn't double down on things you think are unacceptable, because you might get a win anyway and then you'll have to live with it.

HARLOW: All right. Gentlemen, stay with us. We have a lot more ahead. The president in Manila, the last leg of his 12-day trip to Asia. There is a new controversy. The White House insists that the president, quote, "briefly raised the issue of human rights" during his meeting with Philippines President Duterte. But a spokesman for Duterte claims that never came up.

Let's go to our Jeff Zeleny, who's traveling with the president in Manila. So the White House is one thing. Duterte says another thing. And in the middle are very, very serious human rights abuses and a leader who has compared himself to Hitler.

ZELENY: Good morning, Poppy.

I mean, that is a question that is still hanging over this. And in fact, that question greeted President Trump when he arrived here for his final stop on this week-and-a-half-long swing. Would he press Rodrigo Duterte on human rights? After their 40-minute meeting today, after seeing each other, several times throughout the day, that question still hangs in the air.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: Rodrigo.

ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte but not dwelling today on the controversial leader's bloody human rights record. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders telling reporters that human

rights briefly came up in the Philippines fight against illegal drugs. A spokesman for Duterte saying otherwise.

[06:15:09] HARRY ROGUE, SPOKESPERSON FOR PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: No. That issue was not raised. However, the president explained in length his war against drugs.

ZELENY: As reporters questioned Mr. Trump, Duterte's aides stood and blocked the view of cameras. At another point, Duterte made clear he wanted to meet behind closed doors, even channeling Trump by calling out the media, referring to them as spies.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: I would like to reference media to leave us alone. You may leave the room.

ZELENY: White House aides initially were anxious about visiting the Philippines, but Mr. Trump came to amplify his message on trade and North Korea. He stood alongside Duterte during a moment of handshake diplomacy, grimacing while trying to grasp the hands of leaders during a ritual photograph.

The president today basking in the glow of his travels through five Asian capitals.

TRUMP: I've been received like nobody, I think, has probably ever been received. And that really is a sign of respect, perhaps, for me a little bit but really for our country. And I'm really proud of that.

ZELENY: Outside the economic summit, a reality check. Protesters filled the streets. Water cannons deployed to keep demonstrators from the U.S. embassy. And elsewhere, the president's head burning in effigy on a swastika. Some also protesting Mr. Trump's embrace of Duterte, blasted by human rights groups for sanctioning the extrajudicial killings of thousands.

The violent scenes were the most visible turbulence yet on Mr. Trump's 13-day trip to Asia. After carefully measuring his words for days, the president also engaged in a weekend fight with the North Korean leader, saying in a tweet, "Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me old when I would never call him short and fat?"

Yet, it was Russia and President Vladimir Putin that's still hanging over the trip. After telling reporters aboard Air Force One that he believed Putin's denial of meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, Mr. Trump backtracked.

TRUMP: 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, especially as currently constituted with their leadership.

ZELENY: So that question of Russia meddling in the election still hangs over the president as he finishes up here and heads back to Washington. But Chris, the president announced he would be delivering a message.

He called it a big announcement on trade in the White House on Wednesday to talk about his trip here and to talk about something that came out of it. But I can tell you, after spending all this time with him the last week and a half, no doubt he's built relationships with leaders here.

But the outcome of what comes from these conversations will not be known by Wednesday. It will take months, perhaps even years to come, to see how successful this trip actually was -- Chris.

CUOMO: But we understand why they're teeing this up, Jeff, timing aside. Because getting out of TPP created opportunities for bilateral trade agreements for the United States but also for its Asian partners.

And now we're seeing those deals start off. Where is the United States' position? This is going to matter right now.

Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much for reporting from the trip. So this trip to Asia very long early on in this presidency. And we have seen a new type of diplomacy. What should we make of this latest meeting with Putin and this overseas tweet storm, next?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:22:16] HARLOW: Welcome back. President Trump's meeting with the controversial leader of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has sparked a new controversy. The White House says Mr. Trump addressed his bloody human rights record. That is Duterte's. But a spokesman for the Duterte says that never came up.

Let's bring back John Avlon, Michael Smerconish. Michael Smerconish, here is why it matters so much. This is a leader who the president met with. One of the things the president said was we talked about how great the weather is here. This is a guy who has led a bloody war on drugs, killing 6,000 people, who says when he was 16 he murdered someone. And who has compared himself to Hitler, saying he would like to slaughter the 3 million drug users in his country.

So what do you make of the White House saying one thing and his team says another? But clearly, it wasn't a focal point of their meeting.

SMERCONISH: Right. So it's a "he said, he said." And the view from the Philippines is the subject of human rights didn't come up at all. And I think Sarah Huckabee Sanders's words were "briefly discussed."

HARLOW: Briefly.

SMERCONISH: So the only thing we know for sure, Poppy, is that unlike other American presidents on an issue like this, it was not a main stay of the conversation. Hey, I'm looking at this trip. The trip has gone well until the latter stages. I'd be shocked if the president on his watch had this long of a visit further in his administration. It's too long of a trip for a 71-year-old guy. CUOMO: Well, look, I mean, we haven't seen his energy be a factor

here. You have to distinguish between style points of how he conducts the trip into substantive points. That's why the Vladimir Putin situation is so relative.

Let's put this up here. Basically, what this wound up being about is that the president seemed to support Putin's suggestion that he didn't meddle in the election, which of course, would be very upsetting to people back here. So "He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did. Every time he sees me he says, 'I didn't do that' and I believe, I really believe when he tells me that he means it."

This was, of course, quickly criticized, because the Intelligence Committee has never wavered on what they believe as overwhelming proof that Russia did what it has done, what it likes to do, what it's probably doing right now, which is seeking to interfere in our democracy.

So then there was a clarification from the White House that went like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: What does this even mean, John Avlon? Either the United States believes what the intelligence community says and, therefore, anything he hears that contradicts that he should disbelieve. You know, or he's still playing the game of "This Russia stuff is bad for me. Let me try to tamp it down every chance I get."

[06:25:08] AVLON: It's behind curtain two, Chris. That's exactly what it is. He's trying to clean up a mess that he made for himself by putting forward some kind of a clarification. But it's weak tea, because he doesn't really believe it. He believes this whole Russia investigation is bad for him. View through a partisan prism, national security prism.

And that's why you have this sort of dangerous unprecedented moral equivocation. First of all, this occurs on veterans day when that initial statement occurred. As John McCain pointed out, first of all, this occurs on Veterans Day, when that initial statement occurred.

And as John McCain said there's nothing America first about taking the word of a KGB colonel over America's intelligence services. And all his administration can go forward and try to say, yes, this really happened, but as long as the president keeps cozying up to Vladimir Putin, refusing to criticize him when they come face to face, questions will abound, and questions about whether he's really America first in this case. CAMEROTA: So on Veterans Day, as John Avlon rightly points out, he slams our intelligence community and so many who have served, including the former CIA chief, John Brennan; the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, calling them and their peers political hacks.

Well, here's how they responded to Jake on "STATE OF THE UNION."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our -- 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 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Michael, all of that plays into the national security risk here, and that's at the core of this.

SMERCONISH: How about the fact that the sanctions bill passed the Senate, I think, by a 98-2 vote, and President Trump signed it. Although it hasn't been implemented. Doesn't his signature itself belie that which he said on Saturday in the gaggle with reporters.

The problem that I have with the statement is he said, I really believe that when he tells me that, he Putin, he believes it. Is the president asserting that it's possible that Vladimir Putin believes the Russians didn't meddle, but the Russians did meddle? Because nobody would be accepting of the fact that there was a meddle without his knowledge and approval.

CUOMO: I mean, look, this just seems like more of the same, to be honest. It just -- it mattered more, because he had an opportunity to deal with it. And that's what people were anticipating. That this -- we said teeing up the trip last week or a week and a half ago now. That, boy, this is a great opportunity for the president of the United States to stand strong, put America first and say, "Don't do this again. Not on my watch."

And he could have even flexed to John and said, "I'm not Obama." If you do this when I'm here, bad things, man. Bad things.

AVLON: Right, right, right. But you know, this is a guy who likes to say he talks tough, but he didn't talk tough when it came to was to Putin. He didn't talk tough when it came to actually speaking in front of the Chinese on trade, despite his rhetoric in the past.

And so you start to -- you start to see a pattern. What I think is most troubling is perhaps this. This president seems to have a weakness for strong men, for authoritarian leaders in different positions when he especially is face-to-face. I mean, Duterte, you know, criticized President Obama viscerally, in vicious terms, a horrific human rights record.

But if that's only a sideline, because they really seem to click interpersonally, that's a larger problem about American leadership and the moral leadership of the presidency. That's what we're really talking about here. What kind of coalitions do you find yourself gravitating to, if he finds a pass of weakness for strongmen on the world stage?

HARLOW: Who will you stand next to and surround yourself with?

AVLON: That's right.

HARLOW: Duterte said that about Obama. They canceled the meeting the two were supposed to have.

Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Also this morning, a deadly earthquake devastating Iran and Iraq. Hundreds dead. Thousands injured. The death toll is climbing as we speak. We'll have the latest on that disaster next.