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EARLY START

Dozens of GOP Senators Abandon Roy Moore; Sessions Weighs Clinton Inquiry; Don Jr. Confirms WikiLeaks Communication; Humanitarian Crisis Unfolding in Myanmar. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired November 14, 2017 - 04:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:30:04] SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There are a number of options that are being considered, but he should not be a United States senator.

REPORTER: Whatever means --

MCCAIN: Whatever it requires.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Republican support in Washington evaporating as dozens of GOP lawmakers now say Moore needs to bow out of the Alabama Senate race. But with support in Alabama holding for him, will he quit?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The attorney general now asking federal prosecutors to look into a special counsel on the Clinton Foundation. Is it only to appease the president's frustration for lack of action again the Clintons?

MARQUARDT: And the president's son admits he communicated privately with WikiLeaks during the campaign. It came just days before the site released e-mails stolen from the Clinton campaign chairman.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alex Marquardt.

ROMANS: Nice to have you here this morning.

MARQUARDT: Thanks so much.

ROMANS: It's Tuesday morning. I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

The number of Republican lawmakers abandoning Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore growing almost by the hour now in the wake of new allegations he sexually assaulted a minor decades. The questions are being raised about whether Moore would even be allowed to serve assuming he wins the seat. That's still a distinct possibility given Moore's support, broad support for many Alabama voters and officials.

MARQUARDT: More than a dozen GOP senators are calling for Moore to pull out of the race. Cory Gardner, who's the chairman of the Senate Republican campaign Committee, one of the first to say the Senate should expel Moore should he win the special election four weeks from today. That would require a two thirds majority and hasn't been done in 155 years.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also among those calling for Moore to drop out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

REPORTER: Do you believe these allegations to be true?

MCCONNELL: I believe the women, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: GOP Senator Jeff Flake, who's retiring at the end of his term, went so far to say that if the choices between Roy Moore and a Democrat, a Democrat no doubt.

An even greater number of Republican senators are saying Roy Moore should exit the race if the allegations are proven true. But senators are less clear on what to do if Moore stays in and wins.

MARQUARDT: Which is a big possibility.

One idea is a write-in campaign for Luther Strange who currently holds the seat but lost in the primary. Strange, however calls, the idea highly unlikely. Roy Moore himself adamantly denies the latest allegations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: And I can tell you without hesitation this is absolutely false. I never did what she said I did. I don't even know the woman. I don't know anything about her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The woman, Beverly Nelson, says Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16. Nelson said Moore offered her a ride home one night but instead parked behind the restaurant where she worked as a waitress and began to grope her. Then she said Moore locked the car door.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEVERLY YOUNG NELSON, ROY MOORE ACCUSER: He began squeezing my neck, attempting to force my head onto his crotch. I continued to struggle. 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) MARQUARDT: Nelson says she would be willing to testify under oath. For claim Moore used force, if true, would amount to felony sexual abuse, but the statute of limitations has long passed.

Today, a House committee is holding a hearing on preventing sexual harassment in the congressional workplace. Among those set to testify is Alabama GOP Congressman Bradley Byrne, who is backing Roy Moore in the race.

ROMANS: The Attorney General Jeff Sessions is directing federal prosecutors to evaluate any alleged ties between the Clinton Foundation and the sale of a Canadian uranium company to Russia. House Republicans are already investigating this 2010 deal which took place while Clinton was secretary of state. Some Republicans, including the president, alleged Russia sought to donate to the Clinton Foundation to persuade Mrs. Clinton to support the transaction.

MARQUARDT: And now, senior prosecutors will make recommendations to the attorney general about the potential need for that special prosecutor. Sessions' decision comes despite saying this at his conformation hearing back in January.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Do you intend to recuse yourself from both the Clinton e-mail investigation and any matters involving the Clinton Foundation if there are any?

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Critics have expressed concern about the Justice Department's independence after President Trump bemoaned his inability to direct the department to investigate his opponents, including Clinton.

ROMANS: All right. Donald Trump Jr. now confirming that he had exchanges with the WikiLeaks Twitter account via private direct messages during the 2016. Trump Jr. tweeted out the exchanges shortly after "The Atlantic" first reported them. He wrote: Here is the entire chain of messages with @WikiLeaks with my whopping three responses.

[04:35:06] MARQUARDT: The timing of WikiLeaks messages is notable. Trump Jr. responded to two of them. In one, WikiLeaks urges Trump Jr. to push a right wing Website's story about Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. then replies he already has and inquires about an upcoming leak.

ROMANS: Days later, WikiLeaks starts releasing Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's e-mails stolen by Russian hackers.

And days after that, President Trump tweets, urging his followers to read about Clinton's, quote, disgraceful behavior as exposed by WikiLeaks. MARQUARDT: A source familiar with the matter tells CNN that Trump Jr.

was briefly asked about the exchanges during a closed door interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee in September.

ROMANS: All right. The president now inserting himself once again in the tax reform debate, tweeting ideas to improve the bill, including slashing the top rate. That's despite criticism the GOP tax plan is already a giveaway to the rich and businesses. But the president's surrogate s are out in full force, defending the bill as middle class tax relief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVANKA TRUMP, FIRST DAUGHTER: We believe that cutting the rate of taxes on corporations, medium size and small businesses, is going to accomplish the goal of putting more money back in the pockets of American workers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The first daughter Ivanka Trump, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, were in New Jersey yesterday, a high tax state. Many residents use the state and local tax deduction, of course, eliminating that popular break has been a major sticking point. But Mnuchin says getting rid of it won't raise taxes on the middle class.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: People who make $300,000 in New York and New Jersey, there will be several thousands of cuts. And for people who make a million dollar in high tax states, there will be a tax increase. But as the president said, he's willing to have his taxes go up because he wants to do the right thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The president's daughter also continuing her push for family benefits, calling it a boon to middle class families.

MARQUARDT: Now, there's a lot waiting on the president's plate when he returns to Washington. He's coming home as we speak following more than a week in Asia. He's promising a major announcement later this week. But for the moment, he says he wants to give White House reporters a bit of a break.

CNN's Sara Murray is live in Manila with more on the president's final days overseas.

Good morning, Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alex.

Well, you're right, the President Trump is back on his way to Washington after his five-nation foreign trip where leaders literally rolled out the red carpet for him and him along the way. Before he left, President Trump ran through what he thought were the

highlights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Philippines treated (ph) us beautifully.

I made a lot of friends at the highest level. Whether it's China and the incredible opening they gave us, that unbelievable evening. People really have never seen anything like it. Going to the Forbidden City, a theater that hadn't been opened in over 100 years, the level of talent that we watched. It was really something special.

And South Korea was terrific too, as Vietnam treated us, as did -- I mean the Philippines. We just could not have been treated nicer.

We've accomplished a lot. I've enjoyed it very much. My press, I feel so sorry for them. They're exhausted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: Now, clearly, a little pomp and circumstance goes along way with this president. But when he's back in Washington, it's back to business. He's teasing a major announcement. Trump has already said he wants to make one on trade, but officials tell us that he's weighing a prime time address designed of sort of stitched together what he believes are the accomplishment from his tour through Asia.

And it's no surprise that that's what Trump and his aides want to talk about when they're back on U.S. soil. They feel like this trip went very well, but may didn't get the attention it deserved back in the United States. Certainly, they believe the headlines in Asia are far more favorable than headlines about the Russian investigation or the brouhaha surrounding the Alabama Senate race that's certainly roiling the GOP -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: My press. Hopefully, you'll get some rest on the way home. Thank you, Sara.

President Trump also made a personal appeal to President Xi Jinping of China to intervene on behalf of three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. The three players, Cody Riley, Jalen Hill and LiAngelo Ball, the brother of L.A. Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, were charged with stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store near the team's hotel. They've released from custody but remain in China while the team returned to the U.S. following their season opening game in Shanghai this past weekend.

According to the White House, President Xi said he would look into it.

ROMANS: All right. Thirty-nine minutes past the hour.

Clear your heads. That's what the judge told the jury in the corruption case of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. They can't reach a verdict, but the judge isn't releasing the jury yet. [04:40:02] A report from New Jersey, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Forty-four minutes past the hour.

Jurors considering criminal corruption charges against New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez telling the judge they are deadlocked. But deliberations will continue. The judge Monday ordered the seven women, five men jury to return this morning. Their struggle to reach a unanimous decision on any of charges could signal a potential mistrial ahead which would not be a complete surprise.

We get more from CNN's Laura Jarrett.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, good morning, Christine and Alex.

[04:45:00] The message from the judge to the jury was a simple one: keep on going. Now, after several hours of deliberations, the jury said that it was stuck. It asked the judge what it should do, and the judge said, clear your head, try again.

So, today, we will see if they can reach a unanimous verdict, but we had a little bit of a preview that this could happen last week when one of the jurors that was excused for a previously planned vacation told us about the splits in the room, described the situation where the jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on any of the 12 counts that Senator Menendez is now facing. And the question is, what happens now?

If they come back and they say that they are still deadlocked, still unable to reach a unanimous verdict, the judge could instruct them to still keep going, to still try to reach unanimous verdict, or he could officially declare a full mistrial, in which the case the Justice Department would decide whether to try to pursue the charges once again and do this case all over again -- Christine, Alex.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUARDT: OK, thanks to Laura Jarrett.

President Trump's choice for a federal district judge in Alabama coming under fire for not disclosing on a set of questionnaire his wife's job as a senior White House lawyer. The nominee Brett Talley is married to Ann Donaldson, chief of staff to the White House counsel. Senator Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, says the full Senate should not consider the nomination until Talley explains why he failed to disclose this potential conflict of interest.

The Judiciary Committee advanced the Talley nomination on a party line vote last week, and a full Senate vote is expected soon. ROMANS: A new allegation of inappropriate conduct against former

President George H.W. Bush. In a "TIME" magazine interview, Roslyn Corrigan says she was 16 years old when Bush, then 79 squeezed, her buttocks at an event in 2003 where her father and his fellow intelligence officers met the former president. Corrigan tells the magazine her initial was absolute horror and confusion.

MARQUARDT: And her account is similar to those that was shared by at least three other women who say they were inappropriately touched by Bush during similar photo-ops. Spokesman Jim McGrath issued an apology on the president' behalf in the wake of this latest allegation.

ROMANS: All right. Forty-seven minutes past the hour.

Bill Gates wants to build a futuristic community. The proposed site: the Arizona desert. Details on CNN "Money Stream", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:51:55] MARQUARDT: Welcome back.

CNN is following one the most underreported stories around the world right now. A staggering 615,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar for neighboring Bangladesh since late August. British Prime Minister Theresa May says the crisis unfolding in the region looks like ethic cleansing in western Myanmar. Those who haven't escaped are now falling victims to the atrocities at the hands of Myanmar's military.

CNN's Clarissa Ward reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's just a few hundred yards to safety, but it doesn't take along to see that something has gone very wrong. A woman's limp body is rushed through the no man's land between Bangladesh and Myanmar, as anxious families wait to see what has happened.

On this day, it is a husband and wife. The crowd says they were shot dead as they tried to leave Myanmar. They're among more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims who have flooded this border to escape what the United Nations has called a textbook example of ethic cleansing.

Each it seems has a tale more harrowing than the next. Nurul Haq says he fled a brutal massacre in his village of Tula Tuli.

My sons and daughters were shot on Thursday, I can't find them, he says. There's no one left.

Haq claims local officials told residence it was safe to remain in the village, but the days later, the Myanmar military poured in and carried out a blood bath.

Please someone kill me, he cries. This is god's will. Others who escaped Tula Tuli tell a similar story. Rehana says the

soldiers rounded them up on the river bank and separated the men from the women. We couldn't escape, many children were shot and they fell on their faces, she recalls. Those lying on the ground were picked up, chopped and later they were thrown into the river.

Cell phone footage given to CNN by Tula Tuli residents appears to show the bodies of three children wash up on the shore, as witnesses cry to god for mercy. CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the video or verify the many accounts. Access to Rakhine state is heavily restricted.

But we wanted to find out more about what happened in Tula Tuli. So, we traveled to a sprawling refugee camp along the border and met 30- year-old Mumtaz. She says that Burmese soldier raped her before setting the house a light with her inside.

But the burns that cover her body only hint at the horror she survived.

[04:55:03] (on camera): Describe to me what happened to you? What did you see with your own eyes exactly?

(voice-over): My boy was just behind me and they hit them with a wooden stick and he collapsed to the ground dead. His head was split open, she says. Then they took my other son from my lap and threw him into the fire.

She managed to escape with her 7-year-old daughter, Rasia (ph). All three of her sons were killed.

Oh god, she cries, why didn't you take me?

But for the survivors of Tula Tuli, there is no justice in this world.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, on the Bangladesh/Myanmar border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Tough to watch. Our thanks to Clarissa Ward.

MARQUARDT: Horrific scenes there.

ROMANS: And important story to tell.

MARQUARDT: And I'm sure we'll be doing much more reporting on that story.

Now, nearly half of all Americans, 46 percent in fact, fall into the high blood pressure category based on new guidelines that were released on Monday. According to the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other health organizations, high blood pressure should now be treated at 130 over 80 instead of 140 over 90. That means 50 percent of men and 38 percent of adult women in the U.S. fall into the new high blood pressure category. Doctors say medication can be avoided with a few lifestyle changes like exercising, reducing salt intake and adding potassium rich fruits and vegetables to your diet.

ROMANS: New charges filed against members of the Beta Theta Phi fraternity at Penn State following the death of a 19-year-old pledge. Prosecutors citing newly recovered videos, they say Timothy Piazza was served at least 18 drinks in less than 90 minutes during a frat event in February. Later that night, the young man fell down a flight of stairs and sustained injuries that led to his death.

According to the district attorney, members of the fraternity initially told police basement cameras at the scene were not working, but officers uncovered evidence that the footage had been manually deleted. FBI agents were then able to retrieve it.

MARQUARDT: Now, planets are aligning again. If you missed the rare spectacular sight of Jupiter and Venus almost on top of each other on Monday, you'll get another opportunity this morning. The event should be visible 45 minutes before sunrise, weather conditions permitting. NASA's jet propulsion laboratory says that at their closest point on Monday, as seen by the naked eye, the distance between the planets was smaller than the diameter of a full moon.

ROMANS: Very cool.

MARQUARDT: That is cool.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

Global stocks mixed after Wall Street finished slightly higher. But the big story, the big story, GE. Shares fell to a five-year low. There's a good chance you own GE in your 401(k). GE is one of the most widely held stocks in the U.S. The stock fell 7 percent.

Investors apparently unimpressed after the CEO outlined steps to turn the company around, slimming down to three core business, power, aviation and health care. Think jet engines, wind turbines, MRI machines, no more light bulbs, the iconic light bulb. GE also cut dividends in half.

Wal-Mart is about to up its fashion game with a little help from Lord and Taylor. They're teaming up to launch a flagship Lord & Taylor shop on Walmart.com. We got a few details beyond that, but the shop will offer higher end clothing and accessories. They'll launch in the spring.

Wal-Mart said digital business has been a huge success, but Wal-Mart doesn't want customers to abandon the stores just yet. In fact, "The Wall Street Journal" reports it is raising some prices on some items online. The goal there, to lure customers back to their stores for cheaper prices.

All right. Bill Gates wants to build a futuristic community in the Arizona desert. An investment firm controlled by gates is investing $80 million to build a high tech development outside Phoenix. The goal is to integrate technology into resident's lives. The smart city is designed to hold about 160,000 people, will be built around high speed networks, autonomous vehicles, new manufacturing technologies. It will then serve as a template for sustainable cities.

Smart city in the desert.

MARQUARDT: He's doing all sorts of things. He was just talking about curing Alzheimer's.

ROMANS: That's right, that's right.

MARQUARDT: On top of malaria.

ROMANS: He's putting his money where his mouth is.

MARQUARDT: All over the place.

All right. Well, the attorney general now asking federal prosecutors to look into a special counsel on the Clinton Foundation. Is it only to appease the president's frustration with a lack of action again the Clintons?

ROMANS: EARLY START continues right now.

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MARQUARDT: The president's son --

ROMANS: The attorney general now asking federal prosecutors to look into a special counsel on the Clinton Foundation. Is this to apiece the president's frustration with a lack of action against the Clintons?

MARQUARDT: The president's son admits he communicated privately with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. It came just days before the site released emails stolen from the Clinton campaign chairman.