Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Team: Moore Should Drop Out if Allegations are True; Trump Meets with Philippines President; Mnuchin: Most in Middle Class Will Get Tax Breaks. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 13, 2017 - 07:00   ET



ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: The "Washington Post" and others' attack on my character is a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign.

[07:00:13] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the allegations prove to be true, he should step down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no easy solution to this. I think we should consider a write-in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is the leader of the Republican Party. It's his responsibility to say more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The threat posed by Russia is obvious. To try to paint it in any other way is astounding.

TRUMP: I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It demonstrates to Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are the most ridiculous statements. President Trump was focused on North Korea and Syria. Those are areas that we need to work together with Russia.


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

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow joining us this morning, always a pleasure.

HARLOW: Good to be here.

CUOMO: Good to have you.

All right. So let's begin with a defiant Roy Moore now threatening to sue "The Washington Post." The paper, of course, reported the Alabama Senate candidate had inappropriate contact with 14-year-old girl and pursuit of three other teens, all when he was in his thirties. There are some 30 corroborating sources in the story, as well. Members of President Trump's team are calling on Moore to step aside.

But here's the caveat. The condition is, if the allegations are true, you have to ask yourself, "Is that judge a hedge?" What more can we know? What other process will there be to vet these claims?

HARLOW: Exactly. Meantime, the president promising an announcement Wednesday on trade in North Korea. Also, this as he wraps up his trip across Asia. The U.S. notably left out of the framework of a new trade deal with key Asian nations. And this morning, conflicting reports about whether President Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte spoke at all about human rights and the country's bloody war on drugs.

The White House says they did it. A Filipino government spokesman says they did not.

We have it all covered this morning. Let's begin with our Kyung Lah. She joins us live in Gadson, Alabama, on the Moore controversy and a new threat from him this morning.

Good morning, Kyung.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. That's right. There's even more indication this morning that Roy Moore continues to dig in his heels even deeper, even as criticism is rising in D.C. He is certainly buoyed, though, by some support here in his home state.


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 trust and 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 no sense (ph) more important to the nation than child pedophilia, Chuck. I mean, that's the 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.


[07:05:05] LAH: The president was a little less specific than his White House. He was asked about more directly on Air Force One over the weekend. He said, quote, "I haven't gotten to see too much." And despite all the evidence that we've seen to the contrary, Poppy, he added that he does not watch much television -- Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Kyung, thank you for the important reporting.

Another controversy on the final leg of the president's 12-day trip to Asia, the White House claiming that the president briefly raised the issue of human rights during his meeting with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila. But a spokesman for Duterte says the topic was never discussed. Let's go straight to Jeff Zeleny. He's traveling with the president in Manila -- Jeff.


That was the question hanging over this visit even before President Trump arrived. Would he take on and press Rodrigo Duterte about human rights here and all the killings because of his assault on the drug trade. Well, after they had a meeting today one on one and several social gatherings, that question is still ringing here before the president leaves. How much did he question Duterte on his human rights record?


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 context of the Philippines fight against illegal drugs. A spokesman for Duterte saying otherwise.

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 (ph) 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: Now, the president also said earlier today here that he intends to announce a trade deal on Wednesday at the White House. He says he will announce a lot of his conversations he's been having privately once he gets back to the U.S.

But one thing is clear here. As the president has been traveling along having all of these meetings, his "America first" agenda has meant one thing. Other countries, other leaders are moving on without the U.S., particularly on TPP. A deal was reached on Saturday for the 11 initial countries in that agreement to keep going forward on core elements, leaving the U.S. behind on this.

Now, the president believes that he can negotiate one on one with all of these individual countries. But that is wishful thinking in the minds of some people here. China, of course, likes all of this, because the U.S. is suddenly out of this. So the lasting legacy of this trip, of course, all the relationships the president is building. It's an open question if the U.S. will be left behind, as opposed to America first on this trade agenda.

CUOMO: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much. Let's bring in CNN political analyst John Avlon and David Drucker. Jeff makes a good point there.

One of the reasons that the Chinese president did seem very accommodating of the United States is what an opportunity Trump has given China. By pulling out of TPP, China is running the game in that entire part of the world in terms of trade. And we saw on this trip, other countries are moving forward without the United States.

AVLON: Absolutely. TPP is going to move forward except without the U.S. And the whole point of TPP, or one strong argument was as a counterbalance to China's economic influence in the region.

By pulling out of it and trying to do these, you know, sort of bilateral agreements, A, it's much more complex. Unclear whether it will happen. And it leaves that sphere of influence even more open to the Chinese. So it's not inconsistent with traditional Republican support of free trade. But it also puts us at a strategic disadvantage, vis-a-vis balancing China, which was allegedly Steve Bannon and the alt-right's sort of overall emphasis about where we're going in the 21st Century. That just gets abandoned, in the face of this.

HARLOW: There's a huge assumption that all the nations, after they sign onto this trade deal TPP, minus the U.S., basically will want to have these bilateral agreements with the United States and that they will benefit them.

It's a huge leg up to China. He also muddied the water, if that's even possible, even more on whether he believes our intelligence community more or Vladimir Putin more. OK? Everyone knows at this point what the president said on Saturday and then how he tried to clean it up on Sunday.

But never once definitively said, "I talked to Putin. He denied meddling in the U.S. election, but that's bogus. I don't believe it. I believe our intelligence community."

Why can he not say that?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the big $64,000 question in American politics is why a president, who's willing to jawbone our allies, as well as every other adversary we have when it suits him, will not jawbone Vladimir Putin and will not level any mean tweet or say anything off color as it relates to Russia.

Look, the president has never really addressed that. And his attitude toward other leaders is why this is, like, a flashing red light. Yet, there's nothing wrong with the U.S. getting along with Russia.

And I almost said the Soviet Union, because we're such in a place of adversarial give or take with them. There's nothing wrong with it. It should be on our terms. And all the president has to say is, you know, look, Putin said he didn't do anything. Let's just -- we're going to agree to disagree. We obviously know what happened. I'm going to go with our intel agency. End of story.

By saying that he believes that Putin believes it, I think it was a distinction without a difference, even though it was important to get the reporting right of exactly what he said.

CUOMO: I actually know the answer to your question: why doesn't Trump go after Putin? That's easy. Put up his tweet about Kim Jong-un. We can have a demonstration of how it works with the most powerful man in the world.

If you insult President Donald Trump on any level, he will come back at you. I know this is behavior that we all teach our chiropractor is counterproductive and doesn't lead to good adulthood, but this is what he does.

Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling him old, when I would never call him short and fat. Uh-oh, go to your room. You just said it. So this is how it works with the president. This is why he's not going after Putin, because Putin hasn't insulted him. And that's good enough for this man.

AVLON: That's not good enough for the responsibilities of the presidency.

CUOMO: But I'm saying to understand... AVLON: No, no, no, but wait. Wait, wait, wait, wait.

DRUCKER: Xi has never insulted the president. There are lots of leaders. NATO, the South Koreans, they didn't insult him. But he was willing to call him out when he sought -- when did you call...

HARLOW: He said China's raping the U.S.

CUOMO: Not when he -- not when he went there.

DRUCKER: No, but before. After they met in Mar-a-Lago, and then he wasn't happy with what they were doing on North Korea, and they're taking advantage of us. He went after NATO.

CUOMO: Just went there and said don't blame China. Once you're nice to him, everything goes your way.

DRUCKER: Before then, and my point is that's what makes this so interesting. Because it's not just about him being insulted. He takes a different tack towards Russia than he does toward any other nation.

CUOMO: Because they play to his disadvantage with the optics...

AVLON: As I said, he seems to be susceptible to getting played by Putin, you know, the former KGB.

CUOMO: Because it suits his interest.

DRUCKER: If there was ever a Russia investigation. He was unwilling to call out Putin for being the thug that he is.

CUOMO: True.

DRUCKER: Unwilling to call out Russia for undermining U.S. interests everywhere around the world, where he called out everybody else.


AVLON: Let's take a look at the Kim tweet again, because this is important. One of the things that has been accomplished on the president's side of the ledger here was he seems to have done a pretty good job of forming a broader coalition against North Korea. High stakes incredibly important to strategic diplomacy.

And it blows it all up with a mean girl tweet that, frankly, when I saw it on Sunday night, I thought the president had been hacked. For some reason, that tonally was the bridge too far for me. That he's taking events and being called old, and he calls, you know, a nuclear, you know, rogue state leader, you know, short and fat. And then says why can't we be friends? This is a junior high level of psychology that's beneath the office of the presidency, and it undercuts some of the good work that he's done on this trip, and that his team is being done, which is incredibly high-stakes.

HARLOW: All right. Let's move on to the threat from Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Thread this morning. David, is to sue "The Washington Post." You know, Bannon's publication, Breitbart, very pro-Moore down there, trying to dig up dirt on these four women...

CUOMO: Accusers.

HARLOW: These four accusers. But you know, saying he's going to sue the "Washington Post" is a page right out of the president's book. He's said multiple times he'll sue "The Post," sue "The New York Times." He'll sue the Associated Press.

DRUCKER: Look, Roy Moore has a very committed base down there. What he needs to do are things like this that give all of the Republican voters down there who would never vote for a Democrat, almost never, just a reason to hang on for a month and believe. And this is the kind of thing that could work.

And I would say this about Bannon and Breitbart. This is a big deal for Bannon. Because if Roy Moore cannot survive this. I tend to think when this settles, primarily, if he doesn't, his threats about primary and Senate primary, Senate incumbents next year on the Republican side go after Mitch McConnell are going to look not credible. Nobody's going to take him seriously. He will be taken less seriously. Republicans that support McConnell will feel emboldened. And so for Bannon, this is huge.

CUOMO: Yes, but this is also huge for the U.S. Senate Republican Party. You see Republicans who endorsed Moore. He even reluctantly abandoning him even with -- sort of with the caveat. You know, the Republican coalition is pulling out funding. Wait until the first polls come out. You're going to see him there, possibly trailing Doug Jones, who's a Democrat. And you're going to see some responsible Republicans say, you know, this is a bridge too far. Some...

CUOMO: They are mostly saying "if the allegations are true." I know that that's -- that's the way it should be. You're innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This is about political assessment. But by saying if the allegations are true, that ends the discussion, because we'll never get more insight into the facts here.

DRUCKER: The problem with this is the party has lost so much influence on both sides that it doesn't have the ability, like it did ten or twenty years ago, to push somebody out because of somebody like this.

AVLON: It's going to be a more competitive race than people think, even than it would have been, even before this.

CUOMO: All right. So a question. How is the Roy Moore controversy going to play with sitting U.S. senators? You just heard David Drucker bring that up. We're going to bring in a Wisconsin Democrat, Tammy Baldwin. What does she make about the situation? Could the Senate really even do anything about Moore if he wanted? Next.


[07:21:18] CUOMO: Roy Moore, the controversial Senate candidate -- remember, he was controversial long before these latest accusations. And he is saying he will not back down. In fact, he may sue "The Washington Post" for reporting that he pursued teenage girls when he was an assistant prosecutor in his thirties. Now, no question, this was from a long time ago, and women hadn't come forward officially until now.

Moore is insisting he's not going to exit the race, and no one can make him. Let's discuss this with Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. This may be a colleague of yours if he wins this election. What is your take on what we've learned so far?

SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D), WISCONSIN: Well, I believe the women who were reluctantly involved in the story that the "Washington Post" released recently. It seems to be a very carefully researched story.

And I sometimes wonder how much does it take for people to believe women in these instance? I think the people of Alabama have a better choice. Doug Jones is a prosecutor, a law and order candidate. And I hope that the people in Alabama take this reporting seriously and make the right choice on election day in December.

What about the defenses of Roy Moore that this happened a million years ago. Nobody ever came forward. He's been in tons of elections. He's been vetted. He's highly controversial. He certainly has his critics. And that this never came up until right now, right before the election.

BALDWIN: Well, I would say a number of things. First of all, the reporting was very careful in terms of interviewing corroborating witnesses. Four individuals who weren't in contact with one another. And they were reluctant at first. They weren't sure they actually wanted to talk with "The Washington Post" but ultimately decided to.

Perhaps bolstered by the many people who are finding the courage to bravely speak out now about things that did happen some time ago. We're talking about powerful men. We're talking about something that has been fairly rampant. And right now, we're seeing a lot of folks find their voice and speak out.

CUOMO: What do you make of the Republican response of many lawmakers that, if the allegations are true, he should resign. Is that a good enough, strong enough statement for you?

BALDWIN: I don't -- I don't think so. Some of my Republican colleagues have said they've read carefully the story. They find it persuasive. And they don't find the denials as persuasive.

And they've been clear about that. But many of my Republican colleagues, as you have noted, said "if true," as though there were about to be a trial beyond what we're seeing in the newspapers. I read the story carefully. I listened to the response from Roy Moore. And I believe the women.

CUOMO: So if he does win the election, and there's very little chance that the Senate will be able to remove him, because you can't get a two-thirds vote on anything, let alone some things politically sensitive to this, in the GOP advantage in the Senate, he's going to be a player in things like tax reform. We're going to see the first wave of it right now.

The Senate bill, by a nonpartisan estimate, is better for the middle class than the House competing bill at this point. Do you support the bill being put forth by the White House and motivated through the Senate?

BALDWIN: You know, at this point I have to say no for a number of reasons. I want a tax code that rewards hard work as much as it rewards wealth right now. And I don't see that as either the House plan or the Senate plan.

CUOMO: The Senate plan favors the middle class more than the top tier.

[07:25:05] BALDWIN: The Senate bill favors the middle class more than the House bill did. But the huge benefits still inure to the benefit of the wealthy individuals. And there's also quite a shift between the burden that individuals bear and corporate America. We haven't studied, really, that shift, which is quite alarming.

But, yes, there will be folks in the middle class and working class who get modest benefits. There will also be some who pay higher taxes, because...

CUOMO: Under the House bill. The Senate bill we don't know yet, because the independent organization that looked at it, which is a nonpartisan group, didn't look at if over time we'd see any spike in tax rates. We didn't get a conclusion from them. Why do you believe that?

BALDWIN: Well, just if you look at the combination of policies that they have included. So, you know, they've eliminated the state and local tax deductions, which is a big factor. They have done some things that would benefit, you know, large corporations over individuals.

But I still don't find it to be a tax plan that simplifies and is fair. I still see the benefits going disproportionately to the very wealthy. We still have tax capital gains and dividend-derived income at a much lower rate than we do those who work for a living.

And I want a tax code that really rewards hard work over wealth. There's a lot of things that we could improve. One of the basic facts we start with is a go-it-alone approach. Those of us who have been working for progressive reforms in the tax code that really do recognize hard work and recognize the fact that the tax code can help people who have been facing stagnating wages for decades now get ahead. We want to be at the table and include those ideas.

CUOMO: Well, we'll be following the process. Senator, always a pleasure to have you on NEW DAY.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Be well.


HARLOW: All right. So two former intel chiefs blast the president for appearing to clearly side with Vladimir Putin over the findings of our own intelligence community. What could it mean for his relationship with the intel community? We will discuss, ahead.