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New Accuser: 'Roy Moore Assaulted Me When I was 16'; Trump Praises Duterte, Ignores Human Rights Questions; 'The Atlantic': Don Trump Jr. Communicated with WikiLeaks During Campaign. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 13, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Stepping forward. Another woman comes forward with a dramatic and harrowing allegation that Roy Moore sexual assaulted her 40 years ago when she was just 16 years old and he was in his 30s. That follows multiple allegations against Moore. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell now says he thinks Moore should step aside from his Senate campaign in Alabama.
[17:00:33] Intimidated by Putin? Two former U.S. intelligence chiefs say President Trump poses a peril to the country by not taking the threat from Vladimir Putin seriously. They warn that President Trump's refusal to confront Putin on Russian meddling in the U.S. election shows he can be intimidated by the Russian leader.
Drain the swamp? President Trump nominates a pharmaceutical representative to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. The president has often complained about drug companies' refusal to lower drug prices. Can a former drug company boss really lower drug prices?
And "short and fat." President Trump fires off a tweet accusing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of being short and fat while lamenting -- and I'm quoting him now -- "I try so hard to be his friend."
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news. Another woman has now come forward to say she was sexually assaulted by Roy Moore in his locked car 40 years ago when she was just 16 years old and he was a district attorney. She showed her high school year book with his apparent signature.
The Alabama Senate candidate is accused of past sexual misconduct now against multiple teams, including the abuse of a 14-year-old girl.
Earlier, Senate Republican leadership McConnell said he believes the woman's allegations and that Moore should now leave the race. Other Republican lawmakers are echoing that, with one saying if Moore doesn't quit the race and actually winds up winning, he should be expelled from the U.S. Senate.
With the GOP in turmoil, President Trump is finishing up a five-nation Asia trip. Most think that he's gotten a red-carpet welcome like nobody has ever seen. His words.
The president is also boasting about progress on trade, offering no details but calling it "far bigger than anything you know." Once again, his words. The White House says the president briefly discussed human rights with Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte, but has -- who has boasted himself about killing criminals in a bloody anti- drug campaign. Duterte's spokesman says human rights did not come up.
Overshadowing the trip, the president's attacks on former leaders of the U.S. intelligence community and his insistence that he believes Russia's Vladimir Putin's denials of meddling in the election. Former CIA director John Brennan says the president has showed he can be played by Putin and other foreign leaders who appeal to his ego and his insecurities.
I'll speak with Democratic Senator Chris Coons of the Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees. And our correspondents, specialists and guests, they're all standing by with full coverage.
Let's begin with the breaking news. Now a fifth woman has accused Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct, offering a harrowing allegation of an assault she says took place decades ago when she was just a young teenager. There are now growing calls within the Republican Party for Moore to drop out of the race.
Let's go straight to CNN senior national correspondent, Kyung Lah. She's judge us from Alabama.
Kyung, take us through the allegation and the response.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is stunning in the detail of the allegations that happened some 40 years ago, Wolf. This is a woman who laid out these allegations in a televised news conference, appearing on camera. She says that she began flirting with Roy Moore when she was just 15 years old, that she was 16 at the time of the sexual assault; and then she went into detail. Here's what she said took place some 40 years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEVERLY NELSON, ROY MOORE ACCUSER: He stopped the car, and he parked his car in between the Dumpster and the back of the restaurant, where there were no lights. The area was dark, and it was deserted. I was alarmed, and I immediately asked him what he was doing.
Instead of answering my questions, Mr. Moore reached over and began groping me. Him putting his hands on my breasts. I tried to open my car door to leave, but he reached over, and he locked it so I could not get out. I tried fighting him off while I yelled at him to stop.
[17:05:05] But instead of stopping, he began squeezing my neck, attempting to force my head onto his crotch. I thought that he was going to rape me. I was twisting, and I was struggling, and I was begging him to stop. I had tears running down my face.
At some point -- at some point he gave up; and he then looked at me, and he told me -- he said, "You're just a child." And he said, "I am the district attorney of Etowah County. And if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: Just 16 years old, she says, when this alleged assault took place.
And I need to clarify something. She says that she was 15 when he began flirting with her.
Now as this news conference was happening, the Moore campaign also rolled out a statement, and I want to read the statement in part. It reads, "Gloria Allred is a sensationalist," referring to the attorney here, "leading a witch hunt. Judge Moore is an innocent man and has never had any sexual misconduct with anyone. We will pursue all legal options against these false , and Judge Moore will be vindicated."
Now before this stunning news conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked whether or not he believes the claims of four other women here in Alabama, who have alleged some sort of misconduct against Moore. Here's what the Senate leader said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think he should step aside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you encouraging a write-in campaign with Senator Strange?
MCCONNELL: That's an option we're looking at, whether or not there is someone who could mount a write-in campaign successfully.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would it be Senator Strange, do you think?
MCCONNELL: We'll see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe these allegations to be true?
MCCONNELL: I believe the women, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: Now, the woman who held the news conference today said that she believed she was the only victim and that she came forward, Wolf, after the "Washington Post" story, saying she wanted to speak out, based on the courage of those other four women -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Dramatic developments, indeed. Kyung Lah in Alabama for us. We're going to have much more on this story coming up. Stand by for that.
With his party in turmoil back home, President Trump is wrapping up his Asia trip, which has been wrapped in a lot of controversy. Let's go live to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
He's joining us from Manila in the Philippines. So, Jim, what did the president accomplish on this trip?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, President Trump is heading back to Washington in a few hours, claiming he has made progress during his trip to Asia on pressing issues like North Korea and trade. But the president didn't spend much time defending human rights in this part of the world, and he found that the story hanging over him at the White House is still on his tail, the Russia investigation.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Trying to get a grip on leading the free world overseas, President Trump is ending his trip to Asia, claiming he is on a roll.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And it was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever received.
ACOSTA: But on his final stop in the Philippines, he was in no mood to answer questions when reporters tried to press Mr. Trump and the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, on human rights abuses in that country and whether those concerns were discussed between the two leaders during their 40-minute meeting. The Filipino leader shut down the questions.
RODRIGO DUTERTE, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: We're not answering any -- this is not the press statement (ph).
ACOSTA: And dubbed members of the media spies as Mr. Trump laughed.
It all hit a sour note back in Washington as Senator John McCain tweeted, "Human rights obviously not a priority. Sad."
It's no surprise that the president was finished taking questions after the uproar he ignited when he yet again seemed to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Moscow's meddling in last year's election. "Every time Putin sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that,' and believe -- I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it."
Making matters worse, Mr. Trump even blasted former leaders of the U.S. intelligence community that concluded Russia did meddle: "They're political hacks. You look at it, I mean, you have Brennan. You have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar."
Pressed to say once and for all he believes Russia intervened in the election, the president wavered again.
TRUMP: As to whether I believe it or not, I'm with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership. I believe in our intel agencies, our intelligence agencies.
ACOSTA: And he ignored our attempts to clarify his comments. (on camera): Mr. President, why won't you say definitively whether
Russia meddled in our democracy? Why won't you say that definitively, sir?
(voice-over): Two of the former intelligence officials assailed by the president as political hacks hit back on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."
BRENNAN: 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.
CLAPPER: 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.
ACOSTA: Just before his news conference, where he was pressed on Russia, the president fired off a tweet, taunting North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as short and fat, before suggesting they could somehow be friends.
TRUMP: I think anything's a possibility. Strange things happen in life. That might be a strange thing to happen. But it's certainly a possibility.
ACOSTA: On trade, the president was going it alone, insisting he can negotiate better deals than the multinational Trans-Pacific Partnership crafted by the Obama administration. The result: the remaining 11 countries in the TPP, as it's called, are heading toward an agreement, only without the U.S. Don't tell the president, who claimed victory.
TRUMP: We've made some very big steps with respect to trade, far bigger than anything you know.
ACOSTA: Now, the White House claims the president briefly brought up human rights concerns with Duterte, but a spokesman for Duterte said that did not happen, adding that Mr. Trump appeared to be nodding during their meeting and showing their support for this country's human rights practices.
Now, the president's stop here in the Philippines was another example, Wolf, of Mr. Trump taking a pass on standing up for American principles. Wolf, he had a chance to stand up for the press, had a chance to stand up for human rights. It didn't happen -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta reporting for us from Manila in the Philippines. Thank you very much.
Joining us now, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He's a key member of the Judiciary and the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, thanks for joining us. SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: We're going to get to President Trump's international trip in just a moment, but first I want to get your quick reaction to the latest developments involving Roy Moore. Your Republican colleagues are now increasingly calling for him to step aside. So far it doesn't like like he's going to.
If he were to win the Senate seat in Alabama next month, what should Republicans do?
COONS: Well, I respect the fact that the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the head of the Republican campaign committee have both called for Roy Moore to step down.
I found listening to the press conference earlier today just heartbreaking. I believe the women who have come forward and provided detailed testimony about his heinous acts while he was a young prosecutor, but in his 30s, and attempting to date very young women, women who were teenagers or even 14 or 15 years old.
I do think that it's important for the standards of the Senate of the United States that a person who has been accused credibly of this kind of horrible behavior not be seated in the United States Senate.
BLITZER: Your colleague, you mentioned Senator Corey Gardner, the head of the REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE. He did say that if Moore were elected in Alabama, the Senate should vote to expel him.
Do you agree? And do you think there are enough Republicans that would support that?
COONS: Well, I can't speak for my Republican colleagues, and I assume that this week they're going to have a chance during their caucus to talk about what steps they may take to try and dissuade Roy Moore from running, or what actions they might take in the majority, were he to win the upcoming election.
BLITZER: The election is December 12th. Dot that long -- not that far away.
Another important story that's developing now, Senator Coons, "The Atlantic" is reporting that Donald Trump Jr. actually corresponded with WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign. There were messages exchanged between the two, largely one-sided with WikiLeaks, but Trump Jr. did respond at times.
You're a member of the Judiciary Committee, which is also doing an investigation into Russian meddling. Were you aware of this? And if you were, what can you tell us?
COONS: Wolf, that story in "The Atlantic" is the first time I've heard of this. And the suggestion that there were repeated, direct communications between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump Jr., not just during the campaign but continuing up into the middle of this year, is a striking development. I'll remind you that WikiLeaks is an organization that our
intelligence community believes was directly cooperating with the Russian security services in a coordinated effort to undermine our last presidential election and that they engaged in dumping significant amounts of information that had been hacked by Russian intelligence in order to affect the outcome of our last election.
These direct communications are a very striking development, and I'm looking forward to hearing what the Senate Intelligence Committee is going to do with this latest revelation.
BLITZER: The -- Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyers say they have made available all of these exchanges to the Congressional investigators.
[17:15:10] An attorney representing Donald Trump Jr., Alan Futerfas, says this. He said, "'The Atlantic'" -- "I told 'The Atlantic'" -- and I'm quoting him now -- "we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents, and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum."
But I'll give you another opportunity to react specifically to what Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer says.
COONS: Well, Wolf, I wish that the Senate Judiciary Committee were still proceeding in a bipartisan way to call witnesses and to develop more information. I think it would be appropriate for our committee to be looking at this in the context of obstruction of justice.
But the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting a largely closed process, apparently according to that statement from Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer, already has this information. It is my hope that they can yet come to a bipartisan conclusion of their investigation.
This is an intriguing and significant development, because it suggests direct communication between the entity that was the chosen vehicle of Russian intelligence to try and influence our campaign and one of the most senior members of Donald Trump's campaign team, his son.
BLITZER: Let's discuss the president's latest comments on Russia and its meddling in the U.S. presidential election. President Trump said over the weekend that former FBI director James Comey, former director of national intelligence General James Clapper and former CIA director John Brennan are merely political hacks. I'll read the quote from the president: "I mean, give me a break. They are political hacks. So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar, and he is proven now to be a leaker. So you look at that and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with them."
What's your reaction, Senator, when you hear that kind of talk from the president of the United States about these three leaders of the law enforcement and intelligence community? Former leaders.
COONS: Wolf, this was Veterans Day weekend, and it was striking to me to hear our president, on foreign soil, taking the word of a former KGB colonel Vladimir Putin, the leader of a country that really does not share our interests. It's one of our major adversaries around the world. And so publicly disrespecting a veteran, former General Clapper, former director of national intelligence, who's dedicated his entire adult life to serving our nation. To say nothing of Jim Comey, former FBI director, career law enforcement leader.
I just -- I thought this was uncalled for, unprecedented and something that puts our national security at risk. I understand the president may have some disagreements with these former law enforcement and intelligence community leaders, but to air those disagreements in public on foreign soil in a way so dismissive of them and their service I found just uncalled for.
BLITZER: Senator, there's more development -- there are more developments happening right now. I want you to stand by. We'll resume this interview right after a quick break.
[17:22:43] BLITZER: We're back with Democratic senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He's a member of the Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees.
Senator, President Trump, as you know, he's supposed to impose -- begin to impose all the new sanctions on Russia because of its meddling in the presidential election by January 29, according to the law he signed on August 2. But the administration, as you know, was weeks late in the deadline to identify targets of the sanctions. This past Sunday, the president questioned whether new sanctions were even necessary.
Do you have confidence that he will actually enforce the sanctions law? He opposed it to begin with, reluctant to sign it, forced to sign it because Congress passed it, the Senate passed it 98-2. Almost unanimously in the House, as well. Do you have confidence he will -- he will actually implement all these new sanctions against Russia?
COONS: Wolf, I've got real concerns about whether President Trump will, in fact, enforce the law that he signed. As you referenced, it was passed by an overwhelming vote here in the Senate, 98-2. And if he fails to enact the sanctions that are called for in that law, that will be a direct challenge to Congress and to our ability to play a significant constructive role in foreign policy.
I think it would be a mistake for President Trump to challenge Congress when we have enacted something with such a strong vote in both the House and the Senate. And I think it would further concern our allies overseas and embolden our adversary, Russia, were the president to fail to move ahead with these important next-step sanctions to impose some real costs on Russia for its meddling in our 2016 presidential election.
BLITZER: Well, if he didn't begin to impose those new sanctions, would he be violating the law of the land? And if he were violating the law, if he signed that legislation into law, what is -- what could Congress do, if anything, about that? COONS: Well, that would be a significant challenge to Congress if the
president refused to step forward and carry out this law. And there's a series of steps Congress can take, either refusing to move forward on confirmations, taking steps in terms of budget. We have the power of the purse.
Or if he steadfastly refused to implement the law that he signed, there's more extreme steps that the Congress can take.
One of the things that I hope the president will realize is that he's flying in the face of a very determined bipartisan majority here in Congress that believes there needs to be costs for Russia's interference in our last election.
[17:25:15] The way that the president spoke about his engagement with Putin on his trip overseas does raise some real concern, though, because as he did as a candidate, he continues to suggest that he trusts Vladimir Putin more than he trusts the American intelligence community.
BLITZER: Senator Coons, thanks for joining us.
COONS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, there's breaking news. Another woman comes forward to say she was sexual assaulted by Roy Moore when she was a teen and he was a district attorney. There's a growing chorus within the Republican Party now for Moore to quit the Alabama Senate race.
And President Trump fires off a tweet basically calling the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, quote, "short and fat." Is that any way to win friends and influence foreign leaders? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Our breaking news, a fifth woman has now come forward this afternoon to accuse the Alabama Senate candidate, Roy Moore, of sexual misconduct when she was a teenager.
[17:30:58] Earlier, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, told reporters he believes all of the women who have come forward. He believes them. He's actually now also calling on Moore to step aside.
Let's bring in our political specialist, Ryan Lizza.
I'll show you two graphics. There are now eight Republican senators who want Moore out. There you see them right there, including Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate. And there's a whole bunch of others who want him out if the allegations are true. They're sort of hedging a little bit.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BLITZER: But this looks like this train is quickly leaving the station. LIZZA: I think so. I mean, the problem is Moore doesn't seem to care
about anyone in Washington, and if there's a Republican in Washington, he's just ignoring that advice, ignoring those calls. And I wonder if the dynamic that actually has to shift for him to realize that -- how serious and grave the situation is is Alabama Republicans have to do what Washington Republicans are, and they have to be as outraged as people in Washington are before he decides that he's giving this up.
Because, frankly, he has a coterie of Republicans in Alabama that are defending him. The polls, he's, you know, he's dipped in the polls, but he's, frankly, got the support of a lot of Alabama Republicans. And I think that's what has to -- has to happen for this to change.
If he drops out, by the way, there's not a whole lot they can do. They can't replace him on the ballot. Someone could run a write-in campaign. They don't have a lot of options. And if he wins, they're now talking about the sort of nuclear option, which would be actually expelling him from the Senate, which would be quite -- which would be something.
BLITZER: You've just wrote a column, Chris, suggesting that the only person that could really influence Roy Moore to drop out would be the president of the United States.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes, and I'm not even sure if he could. But to Ryan's point, you know, Mitch McConnell saying that he should drop out is a big deal here, and we covered it as a big deal. Roy Moore doesn't care. You know, Roy Moore responded back, Mitch McConnell is the one who should leave the Senate. You know, he'll probably raise money off the idea that the Republican establishment is up against me.
Donald Trump is very popular in the state. Trump has, to this point -- obviously he's in Asia -- but to this point, essentially said, like, "Look, I've been busy. I haven't really turned my attention to it." He'll be back on Wednesday. I think he -- I think he will need to say something either before then or on Wednesday to clarify the White House's position.
One thing: you listened to all those senators who said either if the allegations are true or he should just resign. I think the most important one, Ryan mentioned this, is Cory Gardner of Colorado, who's the chairman of the Republican campaign arm and said, "If Moore is seated, we need to vote for expel him."
I looked this up. There have only been 15 senators that have been expelled, and 14 of them were for supporting the confederacy. And the other one came before that for a plot to attack Spanish Florida and Louisiana. So this hasn't happened in a very long time. They usually resign; they get term limited out of office, et cetera, et cetera. That would be a nuclear option, the likes of which we literally haven't seen in more than 100 years.
LIZZA: Or the threat of expulsion, starting that process forces them out. REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. This is a unique
situation where that might be the best-case scenario for Republicans, because at least in that case, you could have another election.
CILLIZZA: That's right.
BERG: Whereas in this case, all their other scenarios pretty much elect a Democrat or elect Roy Moore, and he takes a seat as a U.S. senator, which Republicans now are saying is unacceptable.
CILLIZZA: That's a great point.
LIZZA: But what's really -- what's unique about this is if they're going to expel him from the Senate, it's going to be after voters have voted him as the senator from Alabama. Voters who know everything that the senators will know about the situation and the reasons for the expulsion. So that is a really unusual circumstance.
BLITZER: You know, there is some talk, you know, if Luther Strange -- he's the current Alabama senator in Washington. He lost in the Republican primary to Roy Moore. If he were a write-in candidate, a lot of Republicans are worried about how would he do. Not that well- known after all this time.
But what about -- there's been some speculation the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions, the former senator of Alabama, very well-known in Alabama, if he were to retire as attorney general and be a write-in candidate, there are sources close to him are telling our Kaitlan Collins there's no -- there's been no talk of that, although there has -- I've heard plenty of talk about that.
[17:35:08] BERG: Right. I mean, that is maybe the one candidate I could think of, Wolf, who would have the name I.D. within a few weeks' time to be able to swoop in and potentially win this race as a write- in candidate, because Jeff Sessions is beloved by Republicans in Alabama, but he also has his dream job. In spite of the Trump tweets he has to deal with, in spite of the drama of this administration, he loves the job of attorney general.
BERG: This has been his goal. He's able to enact some of the most important immigration...
BLITZER: Even though the president has been critical of him?
CILLIZZA: Right. But to Rebecca's point, wouldn't he have -- wouldn't he have resigned when the president called him beleaguered and attacked him for two weeks straight on Twitter...
CILLIZZA: ... and basically said I have no confidence? I mean, this feels like...
LIZZA: This gives him a chance to get back into the Senate. CILLIZZA: True. But I just -- I just -- this feels like a lot of
eight-dimensional chess Republicans are trying to play to deal with the underlying reality that their two options are Senator Roy Moore, which is a disaster on the national level, or Senator Doug Jones, the Democrat. There's really no -- this idea that -- Luther Strange didn't win a primary and run-up, in which his name was on the ballot. So now suddenly, he's going to win a write-in.
BLITZER: We've got to take a quick break, but if Sessions were to change his mind and run, would he win as a write-in? Like Lisa Murkowski won in Alabama as a write-in?
LIZZA: If Moore himself -- if Moore himself withdrew from the race and tacitly, I don't know what his endorsement would be worth at that point, but if he actually withdrew and said it's over, then I think voters would rally around Sessions. He's enormously popular.
CILLIZZA: "Do not vote for me. Write in Jeff Sessions" would be what you'd have to do.
BERG: But at this point that's nothing more...
LIZZA: He's got 100 percent name recognition there. He -- if they had -- if he were a write-in candidate, he could win. He won with something like an astronomical number.
BLITZER: It's unlikely Sessions will do it, but just throwing out -- some Republicans are speculating about that.
LIZZA: Frankly, it would solve another problem for -- it would solve another problem for Trump, because Sessions has now recused himself from the Russia investigation. If Trump were able to get him out, back in the Senate and have a new A.G. who is not recused, I mean, that would be sort of...
BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stand by. There's other breaking news we're following.
Donald Trump Jr. now apparently had some communications with WikiLeaks during the campaign, after the campaign. We'll update you on that and much more right after a quick break.
[17:41:59] BLITZER: We're back with our political specialists. You know, Ryan, there's a new article in "The Atlantic" entitled "The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks," detailing a lot of communications, sometimes just one-sided, WikiLeaks to Donald Trump Jr., communications during the campaign and since -- since the president took office.
LIZZA: Yes. This is a pretty major scoop by Julia Ioffe at "The Atlantic" magazine that shows -- reveals -- answers a great question we all had: Did WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign have any communication? Remember, U.S. intelligence believes that Russia used WikiLeaks as a
sort of third party to dump these stolen e-mails during the campaign. We now know from this great reporting from Julia Ioffe that WikiLeaks then corresponded with Donald Trump Jr., trying to promote the WikiLeaks disclosures.
And in one case Donald Trump Sr. himself, 15 minutes after WikiLeaks communicates with the son, Donald Trump himself from his account tweets out a notice to, "Hey, everyone, pay attention to the latest disclosures in WikiLeaks."
So we have, you know -- this is -- we use the "C" word all the time, "collusion." This is some pretty serious evidence of a back and forth between the Russian cutout that was pumping this information into the American bloodstream and the Trump campaign.
BLITZER: Yes, in the article, we're reminded of a rally on October 10, before the election. Donald Trump proclaimed, quote, "I love WikiLeaks."
CILLIZZA: Right. And let's remember, during the Democratic National Convention, I remember I was sitting in a coffee shop waiting for the Democratic National Convention to start. Donald Trump held that very famous press conference where he urged Russia -- he said he was joking later -- but he urged Russia, "Please find Hillary Clinton's e-mails."
The "C" word we know now is "communication." We now know, thanks to Julia's reporting, we now know there was clear communication, mostly one-sided from WikiLeaks to Don Jr., but not entirely. Don Jr. did respond. We now know there was communications between the two. Now coordination and collusion, you know, we're not there yet, but this is a piece of the puzzle that I think...
BLITZER: Let me read a piece of a statement that Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer issued. And, remember, the exchanges, all those documents were made available by Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer to congressional investigators. They've been going through it.
In a statement the lawyer says, "We can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents, and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum," referring to congressional investigations.
But is he in any trouble, Donald Trump Jr., as a result of this?
BERG: Well, potentially. Clearly, his lawyer is focusing on sort of a misdirection angle, which is the leaking of this information, but the actual information we're getting here, that he was in communication with WikiLeaks, potentially could put him in jeopardy. Certainly, raises questions about the professionalization of this campaign and also the allegiances they had with an organization like WikiLeaks.
I think for any other normal presidential campaign, this would have raised some major red flags. If wikileaks is trying to get in touch, work with your campaign, you would think twice about that. And it doesn't appear, from these exchanges, or at least the one-sided messages from WikiLeaks, that Don Junior was questioning anything at all.
RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: Exactly. They're open for business.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: The context, too.
CILLIZZA: The smoke and the smoke and the smoke and the smoke. We don't have fire but, remember, Don Junior just happened to be one of the three campaign officials, along with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, who were in this meeting at Trump Tower. We --
LIZZA: We don't have anything that is illegal.
CILLIZZA: No, but --
LIZZA: Even this was not illegal, but we haven't --
CILLIZZA: But at some point --
CILLIZZA: -- it's kind of like, wow, all of these things keep happening.
CILLIZZA: Now, to Ryan's point, that doesn't make it illegal, but it does suggest it's odd that we keep having these things. Because I would say I'd be stunned if you had another presidential campaign that were in --
CILLIZZA: -- in contact with WikiLeaks.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There is a lot more important developments happening, and we're going to get to that in a moment.
Rebecca Berg, today is an important day. Your first day as a new CNN political reporter.
BLITZER: Welcome to CNN.
BERG: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Good to have you as one of our new political reporters. BERG: Thank you.
BLITZER: She was a political contributor but now she is a CNN reporter.
BERG: Thank you.
CILLIZZA: Welcome to the crowd.
BLITZER: All right.
BERG: Good to be here. Thanks, guys.
BLITZER: Good to have you aboard. Coming up, a rarely seen show of force by the U.S. Navy as three aircraft carriers take part in military exercises off the Korean Peninsula. Experts say the North Koreans are trying to figure out what President Trump wants.
[17:51:23] BLITZER: In an unmistakable warning to North Korea, three U.S. aircraft carriers of the battle groups are conducting exercises off the Korean Peninsula over the weekend. It's the first time in a decade three U.S. carriers sailed together.
The exercise comes as President Trump prepares to wrap up a visit to Asia that's concentrated on uniting opposition to North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd.
All of this, apparently, ramping up the pressure, Brian, on Kim Jong- un.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Wolf. You know, as those war games take place right off the Korean Peninsula, inside the regime of Kim Jong-un, they're trying to figure out how to read President Trump.
We've learned North Korean officials have been secretly meeting with American experts, and this latest tweet from the President with its childish taunts has everyone puzzled.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To form the line that today --
TODD: The barbs between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, tonight, are getting more personal and more dangerous.
Kim's regime, over the weekend, called Trump an old lunatic.
The President couldn't resist firing back, tweeting, 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.
JOEL WIT, SENIOR FELLOW AT THE U.S.-KOREA INSTITUTE, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: It only makes a bad situation worse. And I don't think they are going to stop, so we have to depend on the United States and our President to be the voice of reason. Now, whether that will happen or not, I don't know.
TODD: Joel Wit from the North Korean monitoring group, 38 North, is among the experts who have taken part in secret talks with North Korean officials over the past year.
Suzanne DiMaggio, another expert on the team meeting with the North Koreans, says what they really want to know is what makes President Trump tick.
SUZANNE DIMAGGIO, DIRECTOR AND SENIOR FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: They really want to know, what is his end game? They want to know if he is crazy or if this is just an act. Is this a good cop/bad cop routine that he's doing with Tillerson?
WIT: If they listen to Rex Tillerson, they hear one thing. If they listen to Secretary of Defense Mattis, they hear very similar things. And then if they listen to President Trump, they hear something that's probably totally different from what they're hearing from all the other people. So how do they make sense of that?
TODD: And DiMaggio say the North Koreans are careful and measured negotiators. And voracious consumers of the news that they read all of Trump's tweets and watch CNN 24/7.
While Kim's diplomats probe their American counterparts, U.S. and South Korean forces are doing their own interrogations tonight.
South Korean military officials say a North Korean soldier has defected, that he scrambled from his post to the South Korean side of the DMZ, was shot, and wounded by the North Koreans but is now in South Korean custody.
General Spider Marks, former top U.S. intelligence officer in South Korea, told us what intelligence of value that soldier could provide.
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: What he'll be able to contribute to is kind of this greater understanding of how the military fits within the society.
How was he selected? Where did he come from? Why was his family selected for their son to become a soldier in the North Korean military? Not everybody is.
TODD: Now, General Marks says that that soldier could provide some valuable intelligence to the Americans and the South Koreans that they'll value his intelligence. They may even treat him like a hero.
Except there is one possibility, Wolf. They could be very cautious with this soldier because they don't know that he is not a plant by the North Koreans.
That's a possibility, Wolf. The North Koreans have sleeper cells all over South Korea. This defecting North Korean soldier could possibly give information to those cells.
[17:55:02] BLITZER: Interesting. All right. Brian, good report. Thank you.
Coming up, breaking news. Yet another woman comes forward with a chilling allegation that Roy Moore sexually assaulted her 40 years ago when she was just 16 years old and he was in his 30s. The Republican Senate candidate denies any sexual misconduct. The accuser's lawyer isn't buying that.
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GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY FOR BEVERLY YOUNG NELSON: If that's the best that he has, well, Mr. Moore, you know, as they say in some parts of this country, you've got some explaining to do.
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